If you have been told that surgery to remove your cancer may be possible, you may have been diagnosed with stage 1 cancer – this is early, localised pancreatic cancer.
Or you may have been diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. This means that the cancer may have grown larger. It may have spread to a small number of lymph nodes near the pancreas, but it hasn’t spread to large blood vessels near the pancreas. If you have stage 2 cancer, you might be able to have surgery, but this depends on how far the cancer has spread.
Your doctor may call your cancer operable or resectable – which means you can have surgery. Read more about your treatment options if you have early pancreatic cancer below.
If your cancer is close to major blood vessels
Occasionally the cancer may grow very close to major blood vessels near the pancreas. You may be able to have surgery, but this depends on which blood vessels are affected by the cancer, and how close the cancer has grown to the blood vessels.
This is called borderline resectable pancreatic cancer – although your doctor may not call it this. They may just talk to you about your treatment options (read more about these below). It is stage 3 cancer.
Stage 3 pancreatic cancer is usually locally advanced cancer. If you have locally advanced cancer, it won’t usually be possible to remove it with surgery. You may have chemotherapy, sometimes with radiotherapy, to slow down the growth of the cancer.