Doctors can successfully treat and control pancreatic cancer if it is discovered before it has spread, according to the National Cancer Institute. The prognosis for pancreatic cancer is based on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, whether the tumor is operable and the patient’s general health overall.
When pancreatic cancer is discovered in its earliest stages, it can sometimes be removed completely by surgery, notes the National Cancer Institute. If the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas, treatment goals include controlling the complications and symptoms of the disease to improve the patient’s life.
Surgery is the preferred treatment for pancreatic cancer if imaging studies indicate that the cancer can be reasonably removed in its entirety, advises the American Cancer Society. When the tumor is removed, chemotherapy or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is generally advised since the cancer tends to return. In some cases, the use of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy is given prior to surgery.
In advanced pancreatic cancer cases where surgery does not extend life, it is still a recommendation in some instances to relieve blockage of the bile duct or to bypass intestinal blockage due to the tumor pressing against other organs, notes the American Cancer Society. Advanced pancreatic cancer patients sometimes receive chemotherapy and radiation too since the treatments help some patients to live longer.