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Chemotherapy for inoperable cancer

Chemotherapy can be used to shrink or control the cancer for people with locally advanced or advanced pancreatic cancer.

Locally advanced pancreatic cancer

If you have cancer that has spread to nearby structures such as blood vessels around the pancreas, surgery to remove the cancer is very unlikely. You will usually be offered chemotherapy, and sometimes chemoradiotherapy. This may shrink the cancer and slow down its growth. For a small number of people, it may shrink the cancer enough to make surgery possible.

Advanced pancreatic cancer

If you have cancer that has spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body, surgery to remove it won’t be possible. Chemotherapy can be used to help control the cancer and relieve any symptoms. Chemotherapy won’t cure the cancer, but it may help you to live longer and improve the quality of your daily life. Talk to your doctor about all the chemotherapy options that may be available. This may include taking part in a clinical trial.

More chemotherapy information

Published May 2017

Review date May 2019

Information Standard