Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on:
- the stage and grade of the cancer
- the position of the cancer in the pancreas
- your general health and preferences
For many people their main treatment is chemotherapy to control the cancer and to relieve symptoms. There are also other treatments and things that can be done to control symptoms and help you to feel better.
Your doctor may explain your treatment based on whether surgery:
- can remove the cancer (resectable)
- cannot remove the cancer (unresectable).
This will depend on the stage of the cancer and also on your general health.
For some people it may cure the cancer. But it is a major operation. It is only suitable for a small number of people who are fit enough. You may have chemotherapy after surgery or sometimes before surgery to shrink the tumour. It may be given as part of a cancer research trial.
You may have chemotherapy first to shrink the tumour. The surgeon then decides if an operation is possible. If it is not, you will continue to have treatment with chemotherapy.
If the cancer is causing a blockage in the bile duct or the bowel, surgery is sometimes used to relieve symptoms.
You may need treatments to relieve jaundice or other symptoms caused by a blocked bile duct or bowel. There are different drugs and treatments that can be used to control any pain or other symptoms. This is called supportive care.
You can read more about this in our information about controlling the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.