Treatments for locally advanced pancreatic cancer

The following are treatment options for locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is usually offered for locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

Chemotherapy drugs and drug combinations used to treat locally advanced pancreatic cancer include:

  • gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane)
  • FOLFIRINOX – folinic acid (leucovorin), 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU), irinotecan (Camptosar) and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)

Radiation therapy

You may be offered radiation therapy for locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Radiation therapy is sometimes given along with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation).

Surgery

You may be offered surgery to relieve symptoms of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (called palliative surgery).

Stent placement is one of the most common ways to relieve a blockage caused by a pancreatic tumour. A stent is a thin, hollow tube that is placed into the duct to keep it open.

Surgical bypass may be used in some cases. There are different types of surgical bypass used depending on the location of the blockage.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to people with pancreatic cancer. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • Alberta Health Services. Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas Clinical Practice Guideline [GI-006]. Alberta Health Services; 2015.
  • American Cancer Society. Pancreatic Cancer. 2016.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Pancreatic Cancer. 2015.
  • The treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Cancer Care Ontario. Evidence-Based Series (EBS) and Practice Guidelines (PG). Toronto, ON: Cancer Care Ontario; 2011.
  • Dragovich, T. Pancreatic Cancer Treatment and Management. 2016: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280605-treatment#showall.
  • Dragovich, T. Pancreatic Cancer Guidelines. 2016: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280605-treatment#showall.
  • National Cancer Institute. Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2016.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (Version 2.2016).
  • Winter JM, Brody JR, Abrams RA, Lewis NL, Yeo CJ . Cancer of the pancreas. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 49: 657-684.