Step Four: Evaluate Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment options available to you, depending on the type, stage, and location of the tumor.

Your doctor will review all of the options available to you, and recommend a treatment plan. It is important to consider the benefits and risks, as well as long-term outcomes. This plan also should consider the impact on any future treatment plans.

The six most common pancreatic treatments are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, clinical trials, immunotherapy and alternative medicine. These treatments are often used in combination.

You can find more in-depth information on these treatment options on


Chemotherapy, commonly referred to as chemo, is a course of cancer treatment that uses a mixture of drugs to destroy cancer cells by preventing their ability to grow and divide. Chemo may be used in addition to surgery, either before to shrink a tumor, or after, to eradicate its remnants. Chemotherapy is also used as a primary course of action for inoperable tumors.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy waves or particles to eradicate cancer cells, and/or prevent them from growing. Unlike chemotherapy (which affects the entire body), radiation is considered a local treatment aimed at specific targets. Radiation can also be used in addition to surgery, either before to shrink a tumor, or after, to eradicate its remnants and protect against a recurrence.


Surgical removal of a malignant tumor offers the best chances for a patient’s body to take long-term control over all types of pancreatic cancer, and to recover from their disease. There are three primary surgeries physicians perform for cases of Pancreatic Cancer: The Whipple Procedure, Distal Pancreatectomy and Total Pancreatectomy. Each is determined based on the location and size of the tumor.


Immunotherapy is a biological therapy that uses substances made from living organisms, including white blood cells, organs and tissues of the lymph system, to help your immune system fight cancer.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are important research studies that evaluate new treatment options prior to their widespread implantation. Trials are the principal methods researchers use to cultivate new treatment options for those afflicted with pancreatic cancer. They can offer patients wholly new, sometimes radical, treatment options. Patients who enroll in such programs often enjoy the benefits of highly monitored and promising new drugs and cutting edge courses of treatment. If you’re interested in finding a clinical trial, search the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Clinical Trials site.

Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine can include the use of vitamins, herbs, special diets, or other methods including acupuncture and massage to treat cancer and/or relieve symptoms. Some are used in conjunction with your medical care, and some are used instead. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting alternative medicine methods to find out the safety and efficacy of various options. For more insights on alternative medicine, visit the American Cancer Society.

Next: Build Your Support System

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