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The type of treatment you are offered depends on the stage| of your cancer, its size, and your general health.
Surgery| to remove all or part of the pancreas is the most effective treatment for early-stage pancreatic cancer. This is only suitable if the cancer is small and hasn’t spread.
However, many pancreatic cancers are not diagnosed until the cancer is quite advanced. If the cancer is too large, or has already spread beyond the pancreas when it’s diagnosed, surgery to remove the pancreas is not possible. Learning that your cancer has spread, and therefore that certain treatments are not suitable for you, is distressing news to cope with. Your doctor will advise you about the treatments that are most likely to help in your situation.
Chemotherapy| (anti-cancer drugs) and radiotherapy| (high-energy x-rays) may be used for cancers that have not spread but where an operation isn’t possible. They may be given separately or together. Chemotherapy can also be used if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver.
Treatment for pancreatic cancer also includes treatments to control symptoms and make you feel more comfortable, known as supportive care|.
Research is going on to find more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer and you may be invited to take part in a clinical trial| of a new drug or treatment.
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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