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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment: Determining Your Treatment Plan
Once we confirm your diagnosis, we will discuss your treatment options with you.
We will determine your specific treatment for pancreatic cancer based on:
Your age, overall health and medical history
Extent of the disease
Type of cancer
Your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
Pancreatic Cancer: Treatment Options
Depending upon the type and stage, we may treat pancreatic cancer with surgical or nonsurgical treatments. Long-term prognosis for individuals with pancreatic cancer depends on:
The size and type of the tumor
If it involves the lymph nodes
The degree of metastases (spreading) at the time of diagnosis
Surgical Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer
We may recommend surgery to remove the tumor. This could be a procedure to remove a section or the entire pancreas and/or the small intestine. The type of surgery depends on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor and your health. There are several types of surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Whipple procedure: This procedure involves removal of the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, the gall bladder, part of the stomach and lymph nodes near the head of the pancreas. Most pancreatic tumors occur in the head of the pancreas, so the Whipple procedure is the most commonly performed surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer. Learn more about the Whipple procedure.
Distal pancreatectomy: If the tumor is located in the body and tail of the pancreas, we will remove both of these sections, along with the spleen.
Total pancreatectomy: We remove the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine and stomach, the common bile duct, the spleen, the gallbladder and some lymph nodes. This type of operation is less common.
Palliative surgery: For more advanced cancers, the goal of surgery may be to relieve problems such as a blocked bile duct rather than to try and cure the cancer.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer
We may recommend one of these other therapies to treat pancreatic cancer.
Chemotherapy: The use of anticancer drugs to shrink or kill cancerous cells and reduce cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Learn more about chemotherapy.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.