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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview for Pancreatic Cancer

Surgical resection remains the primary modality when feasible; on occasion, resection can lead to long-term survival and provides effective palliation.[1,2,3][Level of evidence: 3iA]

The role of postoperative therapy (chemotherapy with or without chemoradiation therapy) in the management of pancreatic cancer remains controversial because much of the randomized clinical trial data available are statistically underpowered and provide conflicting results.[4,5,6,7,8]

Complications of pancreatic cancer include the following:

  • Malabsorption: 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.)
  • Pain: 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.)

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 before palliative approaches are selected.

Information about ongoing clinical trials for pancreatic cancer is available from the NCI Web site.

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