Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview
The survival rate of patients with any stage of pancreatic exocrine cancer is poor. Clinical trials are appropriate alternatives for treatment of patients with any stage of disease and should be considered prior to selecting palliative approaches. To provide optimal palliation, determination of resectability must be made. Staging studies for resectability include helical computed tomographic scan, magnetic resonance imaging scan, and endoscopic ultrasound. The introduction of minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy and laparoscopic ultrasound, may decrease the use of laparotomy.[1,2] Surgical resection remains the primary modality when feasible since, on occasion, resection can lead to long-term survival and provides effective palliation.[3,4,5][Level of evidence: 3iA] The role of postoperative therapy (chemotherapy with or without chemoradiation therapy) in the management of this disease remains controversial because much of the randomized clinical trial data available are statistically underpowered and provide conflicting results.[6,7,8,9,10] Frequently, malabsorption caused by exocrine insufficiency contributes to malnutrition. Attention to pancreatic enzyme replacement can help alleviate this problem. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Nutrition in Cancer Care for more information.) Celiac axis (and intrapleural) nerve blocks can provide highly effective and long-lasting control of pain for some patients. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Pain for more information.)
Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Pancreatic cancer often goes undetected until it's advanced and difficult to treat. In the vast majority of cases, symptoms only develop after pancreatic cancer has grown and begun to spread.
Because more than 95% of pancreatic cancer is the adenocarcinoma type, we'll describe those symptoms first, followed by symptoms of rare forms of pancreatic cancer.
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