Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Pancreatic cancer: Treatment

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Dr. Leon Yoder: The treatment of pancreatic cancer may be different, depending on the type or how much cancer is present in the pancreas. If it's an early stage, there's no spread of the pancreatic cancer outside, then we can actually take it out surgically. So it involves removing part of your pancreas, maybe half your pancreas or maybe even all of your pancreas. Now sometimes, the pancreas can be treated surgically by a different means, whereby only part of the pancreas is removed, and then it's called a Whipple procedure. Where part of the duodenum is taken out, sometimes part of the stomach is taken out, and then everything is rerouted to where everything is connected properly. Where everything can be drained from your stomach into your small intestine and then you still have the pancreatic function left that you can digest your food and also keep your diet, keep your sugars under control. So the Whipple procedure is another procedure that can be done to treat early cancer.

If the cancer is now stage III or stage IV, that means that the cancer is now locally advanced to being outside of the pancreas to the regional lymph nodes or perhaps even to your liver. At that point, we feel that surgical treatment is not going to be a benefit. So the treatment for that would be taking chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. We're also now starting to use intratumoral chemotherapy, meaning that we can inject chemotherapy medications right into the tumor bed itself by using endoscopic ultrasound.

In this video, gastroenterologist Dr. Leon Yoder discusses treatments for early and advanced stages of pancreatic cancer.

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