- Pancreatic Treatment Options
- Who Specialize in Treating Pancreatic Cancer?
- Choosing the Right Strategy
- Consider Different Opinions
- Consider Various Clinical Trials
- Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Depending on the Stage of Cancer
- Resectable Tumors and their Treatment
- Unresectable Tumors and their Treatment
- Think about Alternatives
- Terminating Treatment or Rejecting it
Treatments of Pancreatic Cancer
Undoubtedly, upon diagnosing pancreatic cancer you will be properly consulted by your doctors. Choosing the right course of actions is a prerogative. Each of treatment strategies will have a distinct set of ups and downs and each should be carefully thought-through.
Pancreatic Treatment Options
A list of suggested treatment strategies will be formed based on the stage of cancer, symptoms, and a plethora of other determinants.
Such list may include:
- Surgical procedures;
- Various ablation and/or embolization methods;
- Chemotherapy and medications.
One of the biggest concerns that should be on your priority list is pain control. In many cases, choosing several treatment options is beneficial. Depending on the progress of cancer, you may choose a treatment complex. Some methods work best combined together.
For example, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors often require a diversified approach that includes a variety of treatment methods such as surgeries, ablation/embolization treatments, intense medication, and radiation.
Who Specialize in Treating Pancreatic Cancer?
Your health care team will most likely consist of several specialists. This depends on the type of cancer and chosen treatment options.
Your team may consist of:
- Surgeons specializing in surgical tumor removal;
- Endocrinologists who are usually profound in treating gland and secrete diseases;
- Radiation oncologists who will assist in treating cancer via radiation;
- Medical oncologists specializing in medication and chemotherapy.
The team may also include more specialists such as physician assistants, nurses, nutrition experts, psychologists, and many other professionals.
Choosing the Right Strategy
You should never make a choice before discussing your options with your doctor. Each type of treatment has side effects and often pursuit different goals.
Before making your choice, consider the following:
- Estimated life span and age;
- Additional medical conditions;
- The extent of cancer;
- The probability of a successful surgical tumor removal;
- The probability of curing cancer with chosen treatment methods;
- Possible side effects.
While having cancer certainly puts pressure on your shoulders, you need to remember that you have more than enough time to contemplate and make the most optimal choice. Additionally, never shy away from asking about things that confuse you.
Consider Different Opinions
Never make a decision, if you are not completely sure. Feel free to talk to other doctors. In the vast majority of cases, having as much information about your medical condition will help you to choose the most optimal course of actions.
Consider Various Clinical Trials
Oftentimes, various medical organizations and hospitals participate in controlled research studies trying out new medications and methods. Such studies are usually called clinical trials. Getting in such programs is the best way to ensure that you will receive the most advanced treatment option. However, some trials are selective and some test dangerous medicines. You should definitely talk to your doctors about entering one of clinical trials in case your hospital conducts one.
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Depending on the Stage of Cancer
Your treatment options in case of pancreatic cancer will be defined by whether tumors can be resected (surgically removed) or not. Obviously, specific medical conditions and other health related determinants may also affect available treatment options.
The possibility of complete tumor removal is often obscure. Imaging tests rarely give a whole picture. One of the best ways to find out whether tumors are resectable is through laparoscopy. However, cancer may spread faster than anticipated. In such cases, even laparoscopy cannot give a determinate estimation.
Pancreatic NETs are more often removable. This cannot be said about exocrine pancreatic cancer which is more common. NETs do not lean towards spreading widely and prone to concentrating in certain areas. This means, NETs are usually resectable. In some cases, even spread out NETs can be removed completely.
Resectable Tumors and their Treatment
In the vast majority of cases, resection is the best possible course of action. Resectable tumors are removed surgically. Depending on the stage of cancer and spread of tumors, enucleation or pancreaticoduodenectomy or other surgery types may be applied. In many cases, your surgeon will also remove lymph nodes in order to prevent cancer from spreading.
Depending on your physical conditions, you will also be treated with various medications before the surgery. The course of treatment may include stomach acid inhibitors. Many patients that have insulinomas will have to consume diazoxide in order to control blood sugar level. In case, the tumor is observable on OstreoScan, additional medications such as octreotide may be required in order to work around possible symptoms.
In the vast majority of scenarios, resection is enough to treat cancer. However, after-surgery supervision is more than recommended. Cancer may return or start spreading again.
Unresectable Tumors and their Treatment
Some islet cell tumors (NETs) cannot be resected surgically. Islet cell tumors are prone to slow growth and often monitoring their growth is a better strategy.
In case of wide spread of tumors, patients may experience diarrhea, hormonal issues, and other problems. These symptoms can be treated with proper medications in the vast majority of cases. Drugs like lancreotide, diazoxide, and others reduce symptoms and often hinder tumor growth.
When tumor starts growing rapidly or symptoms can no longer be controlled via regular medication, chemotherapy and targeted drugs are the best options. In order to prevent cancer from spreading to liver, ablative methods and surgeries have to be applied.
Chemotherapy is the first suggested treatment technique when patients have neuroendocrine carcinomas.
Treatment may yield no results. In such cases, you should consider entering various clinical trials. A newer method or medication may help you, but some clinical trials are strictly limited in terms of patient selection. However, you should still try to enter one of such studies, if regular treatment fails.
Information presented above should not be considered official policy of any known organization or society. Suggestions and advices provided here are not replacements for professional expertise. This information is presented with the intention of helping in making well cognizant decisions. If you doctor suggest you an unorthodox strategy or a list of options not presented here, you should try to receive more information about his suggestions. Never hesitate to ask additional questions regarding treatment options available to you.
Think about Alternatives
Sometimes, adding complementary treatment options may be beneficial. Your doctor may not mention some treatment options that can help in relieving symptoms or even treat cancer. A short list of possible treatment methods consists of acupuncture, physio massage, unorthodox dieting, vitamin courses, herbal medications, etc.
Alternative and complementary methods should be considered as an addition to your treatment plan. Do not hesitate to discuss your options with doctors. While many alternative methods can be helpful in inhibiting symptoms, there are practices that are totally useless or even dangerous.
This is especially true for various online offers and sensational cures. If you see an advertisement of a medication that cures any type of cancer or replaces generally accepted treatment options, you should be aware of scams. There is not secret magical cancer cure hidden in the mountains of Himalayas. If you need to travel somewhere to get a cure, you will most likely end up overpaying for a touristic entertainment.
Every single unorthodox alternative method should be used only after consulting with your doctor. Many medical specialists are well informed about such methods and will drastically widen your perception. Some alternatives are great as complementary treatment options, other are less so.
Terminating Treatment or Rejecting it
When treatment no longer helps, you may think about stopping treatment altogether. In many cases, continuing treatment may be not beneficial and risks start outweigh advantages. Remember that besides intense treatment there are other ways of living with cancer.
Patients with advanced extents of cancer may reject treatment. This decision is totally understandable. However, you need to carefully explore your options before neglecting treatment. Make certain to talk to your doctors and observe available options. In case you decide to not receive treatment, you should get medical help in inhibiting symptoms and controlling pain.