What are my treatment options?
You may be able to have treatments to try to control the cancer, such as chemotherapy. There are also treatments for any symptoms. The aim of treatment will be to control the growth of your cancer, manage any symptoms and generally improve how you feel.
Whatever your options, having treatment is your decision, and you don’t have to decide anything straight away. You may be offered another appointment if you need it to discuss any questions you have.
Treatments for locally advanced cancer
If you have locally advanced pancreatic cancer, you may be offered chemotherapy on its own or together with radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy). This is to try to shrink the cancer, slow down its growth, and control your symptoms. For a small number of people, this treatment may shrink the cancer enough to make surgery to remove the cancer possible.
Treatments for advanced cancer
If you have advanced cancer and are well enough, you may be able to have chemotherapy. Chemotherapy won’t cure the cancer, but it may help you to live longer and relieve your symptoms.
If you have symptoms from the cancer there are also treatments for these. A specialist palliative care team or supportive care team can help manage symptoms. They also provide emotional and practical support. They can help you live as long and as comfortably as possible, and plan for the future. They can also support your family.
Some people find the thought of palliative care upsetting. But these services aren’t just for people at the end of their life. They are available at any point during treatment or care.
Some people with advanced pancreatic cancer may not be able to have treatment to control their cancer. This will depend on your situation. For example, you might not be physically well enough for treatments like chemotherapy. Some people may decide not to have treatment for different reasons. Whatever your situation there is medical, emotional and practical support available, and you should be able to have treatment for any symptoms you have. Read more about the care you will have if you can’t have treatment to control the cancer.
Clinical trials are carefully controlled medical research studies that involve patients. Most trials in pancreatic cancer aim to find better treatments. Ask your medical team whether there are any clinical trials that you could take part in. A clinical trial may give you the chance to try a new treatment – although there’s no guarantee that it will be any better than current treatments.
Getting a second opinion
You can ask for a second opinion about your treatment options from a different medical team, if you want one. Most doctors will help you do this, if you ask them. But don’t delay your treatment while you get a second opinion, as it can take several weeks.