As of 2015, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy are the treatments available for pancreatic cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. The treatment chosen depends on the stage at which the cancer is detected and diagnosed and the patient's age, general health and preferences.
If pancreatic cancer is detected in its early stages, surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas is a possible treatment option, explains Mayo Clinic. Part of the small intestine, part of the bile duct, the gall bladder and the spleen may also be removed.
Chemotherapy is the use of oral or injected drugs to kill cancer cells, while radiation therapy eradicates cancer cells through use of high-energy beams, states Mayo Clinic. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with each other and/or surgery. Doctors sometimes use these therapies to shrink a tumor before surgery or prevent the redevelopment of pancreatic cancer following surgery, notes WebMD.
Targeted therapy utilizes drugs that hone in on certain aspects of the cancer, such as genes and proteins, to prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading, explains Cancer.Net. This therapy helps preserve healthy cells.
Palliative care is also necessary for those with pancreatic cancer, notes Cancer.net. This involves using medications, nutritional support and relaxation techniques to help the patient deal with pain, control diabetes that may develop due to the lack of insulin normally produced by the pancreas, and improve appetite and digestion.