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Your treatment will be planned by a team of specialist doctors and other healthcare professionals. This is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) and may include a:
The MDT may also include other healthcare professionals, such as:
The most effective treatment for early-stage pancreatic cancer is surgery| to remove part, or all, of the pancreas. This may cure the cancer for some people but it is a major operation. It is only suitable for people who are fit enough to have the surgery and who have cancers that are small and haven’t spread. Chemotherapy| may be used after the operation to try to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back.
Chemotherapy may be used to control the cancer and relieve symptoms. Sometimes chemotherapy and radiotherapy| are given together. This is called chemoradiation. If the cancer is blocking the bile duct or the bowel, surgery or stents may be used to relieve symptoms.
The main aim of treatment is to reduce symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. This is called supportive care|. Stents may be used to relieve jaundice or other symptoms caused by a blocked bile duct or bowel. Chemotherapy may be offered to help to reduce symptoms. Radiotherapy, painkillers and nerve blocks may be used on their own or in combination to control any pain.
Many people are frightened at the idea of having cancer treatments, because of the side effects that can occur. Some people ask what would happen if they did not have any treatment.
Although many of the treatments can cause side effects, these can usually be well controlled with medicines. Treatment can be given for different reasons, and the potential benefits will vary depending upon each person's situation.
If you have been offered treatment with the aim of curing your cancer, deciding whether to accept the treatment may not be difficult. However, if a cure is not possible and the treatment is being given to control the cancer for a period of time, it may be more difficult to decide whether to go ahead. Making decisions about treatment in these circumstances is always difficult, and you may need to discuss the possible options in detail with your cancer specialist. You may want more information about what side effects you can expect from treatment, so that you can weigh these up in comparison to the possible advantages in terms of survival and quality of life.
For more on planning your treatment, you may find it helpful to read our information on:
Content last reviewed: 1 December 2010
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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