If you have any questions about your diagnosis or treatment, speak to your doctor or nurse.
You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.
You may be told the stage of cancer. This describes the size of the cancer, if it has spread outside the pancreas and where to.
Stage 3 cancer means that the cancer has spread outside your pancreas. It may have spread to the large blood vessels near the pancreas, or to a number of lymph nodes.
This is usually locally advanced cancer but it may occasionally be borderline resectable cancer.
Diagram showing stage 3 pancreatic cancer
If you have locally advanced cancer, it won’t usually be possible to remove the cancer with surgery. You may have chemotherapy , sometimes with radiotherapy . This is to try to shrink the cancer, slow down its growth, and control your symptoms. For a small number of people, this may make surgery to remove the cancer possible.
Read more about locally advanced pancreatic cancer.
Borderline resectable cancer is cancer that has grown very close to the major blood vessels near the pancreas. Some surgeons may class this as stage 2 cancer . You may be able to have surgery to remove the cancer , but it depends which blood vessels are affected. Ask your doctor or nurse if you’re not sure how this affects you. You may have chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy to try to shrink the cancer, before your doctors consider surgery.
Read more about cancer that is close to major blood vessels .
If you have just been diagnosed with locally advanced or advanced cancer, download our booklet: Pancreatic cancer if you can’t have surgery (inoperable cancer). A guide if you have just been diagnosed.
You can also order a printed copy.
Published November 2022
To be reviewed November 2025