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Pancreatic Cancer

About Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that produces digestive juices (bile) and hormones (inulin) and is found between the liver and stomach. In 2021, an estimated 4,261 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.1

Other benign conditions may cause these symptoms and having one or more of the signs above doesn’t mean you have pancreatic cancer. If you’re concerned about pancreatic cancer, you should talk to your GP, and they can refer you to a specialist if they think it’s needed, or you can book directly with us.

 

Chapter 01

Treating pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer treatment may include, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

The treatment for pancreatic cancer is dependent on the stage, which means how far the cancer has grown and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

Early-stage cancers are often described as resectable, which means that they are potentially curable by surgically removing them. If the cancer can be removed from the pancreas and any surrounding organs, along with a clear margin of tissue around it to ensure that no cancer cells are left behind, then long-term survival may be achieved. Surgery is usually the best treatment for early stage pancreatic cancer, but because of frailty or other illnesses, some people are not suitable. This is sometimes referred to as being medically inoperable.

A cancer that is more advanced, but which has not spread to other organs such as the liver or lungs, is described as locally advanced pancreatic cancer. This is usually treated with chemotherapy, and sometimes with a five-to-six-week course of radiation therapy.

Pancreatic cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas and adjacent lymph nodes is called metastatic pancreatic cancer. This is usually treated with chemotherapy.

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Chapter 02

MR-Linac and pancreatic cancer treatment

We’re proud to be the first provider in Australia to utilise the Elekta Unity MR-Linac, for pancreatic cancer patients. Patients can access this treatment option at GenesisCare St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and GenesisCare St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Perth.

 

Combining a state-of-the-art MRI imaging scanner with a linear accelerator, the MR-Linac allows treatment specialists to see tumours and adapt treatment in real time, minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.2-3

 

Real-world data presented at the 2022 ESTRO meeting in Copenhagen highlight the effectiveness of ablative MRI-guided radiation therapy in extending survival in inoperable pancreatic cancer.3

 

Results showed that the median survival of patients in the study was 26 months, compared to the 12-15 months typically seen in patients receiving chemotherapy and standard radiation. Similar results have been reported by GenesisCare and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.4

Make an enquiry

To speak to one of our healthcare professionals about the MR-Linac program:
St Vincent’s: 02 8302 5400
Murdoch: 08 9366 1500
Email: pancreaticprogram@genesiscare.com

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“The MR-Linac technology allows clinicians to visualise the tumour during treatment and adapt to changes in tumour size and location. This is particularly important for patients with complex cancers such as pancreatic cancer, as the pancreas is situated close to major organs which can move, and if damaged, lead to severe side effects.”
- Dr Jeremy De Leon, GenesisCare Radiation Oncologist, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney
Chapter 03

Patient eligibility

To receive MR-Linac SABR treatment there are various criteria you’ll need to meet, and your clinician can help you decide if it’s right for you:

1. You must have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that is currently medically inoperable, borderline resectable, locally advanced or locally recurrent. We can treat metastatic pancreatic cancer with controlled disease and also progressing primary disease.

2. You must be otherwise in reasonable health and able to have an MRI scan.

3. As each treatment can take over an hour, you must be comfortable lying within the MR-Linac for that length of time.

Chapter 04

The program

GenesisCare Foundation’s Compassionate Access Program provides compassionate access for suitable patients with inoperable advanced or recurrent pancreatic cancer.

The program allows patients to be treated using stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) on the MR-Linac at GenesisCare St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Western Australia.

The program will also have a research component, generating Australian real-world data within the ADAPT-MRL registry, to further develop the evidence base for this innovative radiation therapy technique.5

“The GenesisCare Foundation compassionate access program aims to provide patients who otherwise would have limited, or sadly, no options with a really viable treatment option.”
- Nathaniel Heiner, GenesisCare Foundation
Chapter 05

References

  1. Cancer Australia, Pancreatic cancer in Australia statistics, accessed June 2022
  2. Hammel, P et al. JAMA 2016; 315:1844-1853.
  3. Chuong, M et al. Radiother Oncol, 2021; Vol 161, Supp 1.
  4. Good, J et al. Feasibility and Safety of daily adapted MR-guided SABR for pancreatic cancer in the UK, ESTRO 2022, viewed May 2022
  5. De Leon, J et al. Clin. Transl. Radiat Oncol., 2021; Vol 31, p64-70.