Pancreatic cancer treatment and diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer

Our teams of cancer specialists are experienced in several different treatments and the latest technologies to treat pancreatic cancer that are proven to be effective. They will work together to ensure that you receive the best possible care from diagnosis through to treatment and survivorship.

Chapter 1

Diagnostics

Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed with imaging scans, such as MRI and CT, and pathology tests such as blood tests and biopsy, although your doctor may use other tests to identify the problem. You may also have other advanced tests to find out more about your cancer, where it’s located and which treatments are likely to be most effective. Some of these tests are also used to assess how well your treatment is working.

Find your nearest GenesisCare center to find out what diagnostic tests and scans are available in your local area. Whatever your outcome, our expert team will support you throughout your treatment journey.

We offer treatments that can effectively improve pancreatic cancer prognosis, manage the disease and help minimize any discomfort and pain. These include surgery, ablation, embolization, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy. Determining the most appropriate treatment for your situation depends on the type of pancreatic cancer you have, its stage and location. You and your physician will work together to decide on the most appropriate treatment plan for you, tailored to your needs.

Chapter 2

Surgery

We work with expert teams of surgeons who are specially trained in surgical removal of tumors in the pancreas.

When diagnosed early, surgical removal of the tumor can slow growth and control the disease and, in very early cases, potentially cure it. One of several different surgical techniques may be chosen, ranging from partial to full removal of the pancreas. The most common procedure for cancers confined to the head of the pancreas is the Whipple procedure where the tumor is removed and the pancreas is reconnected to your digestive system. Your surgeon typically also removes parts of the duodenum, gallbladder, common bile duct and part of the stomach. The lymph nodes and spleen may also be removed.

Surgery can also be performed to remove tumors in other parts of the pancreas, to remove the whole pancreas, or, in some advanced disease cases, to remove and reconstruct nearby blood vessels that are affected by a tumor.

Chapter 3

Ablation

Ablation is not often used for pancreatic tumors, but if the cancer has spread to other sites, such as the liver, ablation of those tumors may be an option.

With image-guided ablation therapy, your clinician uses an imaging technology such as a CT scan or MRI to guide the ablation technology to the tumor site. Ablation technology includes:

  • Cryotherapy – using extreme cold to freeze and destroy the tumor
  • Radiofrequency – using high-energy radio waves to heat and destroy the tumor
  • Laser or microwave therapy – to heat and destroy the tumor
Chapter 4

Embolization

Arterial embolization can be used for patients who are not candidates for surgery or ablation for pancreatic cancer that has spread to the liver. Embolization therapy uses tiny particles to block the flow of blood to tumors through the artery feeding them. This destroys the cancer cells by starving them of oxygen and nutrients. In some cases, the particles may be radioactive (radioembolization) or infused with chemotherapy (chemoembolization), providing the added power of a dual-acting therapy.

Chapter 5

Medical oncology

At GenesisCare, we offer various drug therapies and a wide range of the latest anti-cancer drugs for pancreatic cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer

Chemotherapy refers to drugs that destroy cancer cells. Our expert teams may recommend chemotherapy before or after other treatments, or on its own. It can be combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) before or after surgery.

The type of chemotherapy you’ll receive will also depend on your how advanced your pancreatic cancer is. If you have pancreatic that has spread to other parts of your body, chemotherapy can help control its growth, relieve symptoms and improve your pancreatic cancer prognosis.

Targeted therapy for pancreatic cancer

As researchers know more about pancreatic cancer, they have developed new treatments that can specifically target it. We use targeted therapy to seek and attack cellular activity that the cancer depends on to survive and grow. They are used depending on the specific genetic make up of your cancer. Types of targeted therapy for pancreatic cancer include:

  • PARP inhibitors – suitable for certain pancreatic cancers, by blocking the DNA repair pathway in cancer cells often leading to cell death
  • NTRK inhibitors – some pancreatic cancers have changes in a gene called NTRK which can lead to abnormal cell growth and cancer. These drugs are used for advanced pancreatic cancer to target proteins made by these genes

Immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer

Immunotherapy helps your body’s own immune system to recognize and fight the cancer. In pancreatic cancer, immunotherapy is used if your cancer continues to grow after chemotherapy, if you can’t have surgery, your cancer has returned after treatment, or has spread to other parts of your body.

Chapter 6

Radiation therapy

At GenesisCare we specialize in advanced radiation therapy techniques that are designed to be effective and minimize the side effects you’ll experience. As the largest radiation oncology provider in the U.S. and a global leader in cancer care, our broad experience and world-class expertise means we offer advanced and innovative radiotherapy as standard.

Our latest-generation machines are built to deliver highly targeted radiation beams. The accuracy of these treatments, together with the expertise of our teams, helps our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.

The type of pancreatic cancer treatment your radiation oncologist recommends will depend on your diagnosis, if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your general health and personal preferences.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is an advanced external beam radiation therapy technique where the beams of radiation are precisely shaped to exactly match your tumor and damage to adjacent healthy tissues is limited.

Surface-guided radiation therapy

SGRT uses sophisticated 3D camera technology to help your radiation therapy care team to position you for treatment more accurately each day, without the need for permanent tattoos. The technology also monitors any unintended movements to might make during the treatment and will pause the radiation until you are back in the correct position.

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

VMAT is an advanced form of IMRT that directs beams of radiation in an arc across the treatment area. Together with surface-guided radiation therapy (SGRT), it’s possible to very accurately target areas of cancer, adjusting the beam and intensity of radiation dose to allow for movements in the body and avoid tissues nearby.

Chapter 7

Why choose GenesisCare?

People choose GenesisCare so they can access the latest technologies, effective treatments and personalized care that’s tailored to them without delay.

Cancer treatment and care is constantly evolving and we offer the world’s latest evidence-based treatments that have been shown to benefit patients. By working together closely, our multidisciplinary teams of oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists and other healthcare specialists provide care that’s focused on you, not just your cancer.

We know that for many people, cancer is a life-changing experience and our goal is to help you through it in the most positive way possible. That’s why as well as offering exceptional cancer treatments, we also provide you with support and resources for your cancer journey—including advice about nutrition and exercise, expert help for managing side effects and information on local support groups.

Designing better care​

Our centers are conveniently located throughout the United States, and each location has a dedicated Office Financial Counselor on hand to help you with your paperwork and answer your questions. We accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, including radiation therapy.