Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

When detected at an early stage, pancreatic cancer has a higher chance of being successfully treated. However, we also offer treatments that can help control the disease for patients with later-stage pancreatic cancer to help them live longer.

Surgery

Surgery is the only treatment with the potential to cure pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most common type of pancreatic cancer. However, surgery is indicated only when the cancer is still localized within the pancreas and resectable (removable). Because pancreatic cancer is rarely diagnosed at this stage, only about one in five people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are candidates for surgery.

Pancreatic tumors that initially appeared to be resectable during diagnosis sometimes turn out to be too advanced to be removed completely during surgery. In these cases, the operation may be stopped entirely, or we might continue with a smaller operation with the goal of relieving or preventing symptoms.

Choosing the patients most likely to benefit from surgery for pancreatic cancer is critical. For patients with pancreatic cancer who have been identified as candidates for surgery, selecting the appropriate operation is also very important.

Our surgeons have extensive experience in treating localized pancreatic cancer through the Whipple procedure, the most commonly performed surgery to remove tumors in the head of the pancreas.

UT Southwestern’s surgical oncologists are also experts in a number of other surgical procedures that can extend and improve the lives of people with pancreatic cancer.

When a pancreatic cancer has been diagnosed as locally advanced or borderline resectable, it often cannot be completely removed because it has grown into or surrounded nearby major blood vessels. But that doesn’t mean no treatment is possible: UT Southwestern surgical oncologists are among the few in the region who can remove and reconstruct blood vessels affected by pancreatic cancer.

Meet Our Surgical Oncologists

Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment

Pancreatic tumors are typically viewed as resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, recent advances in chemotherapy and radiation therapy mean that pancreatic tumors can sometimes be stabilized or minimized with these treatments.

In some cases, patients whose tumors were previously considered inoperable may later be considered candidates for surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments may also help extend the lives of pancreatic cancer patients who are not considered good candidates for surgery.

We routinely review research and cases to be sure our patients have access to the most effective therapies, including embolization, ablative treatments, and immunotherapy.

Meet Our Medical Oncologists

Meet Our Radiation Oncologists

Palliative Care and Support Services

If pancreatic cancer has advanced by the time treatment has begun, palliative treatment can help slow its spread and control symptoms and complications.

Optimizing nutrition can help people with pancreatic cancer manage symptoms and achieve a better quality of life during treatment. Our cancer dietitians can help you improve your nutrition while fighting pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic enzymes may be prescribed by your doctor to support your digestion.

In situations where pancreatic cancer is not found to be curable, we will recommend other treatments to try and keep the cancer under control and relieve associated symptoms.

Learning to live with pancreatic cancer during and after treatment is extremely challenging. We understand the stress that falls not only on patients but also on their family members and caregivers. UT Southwestern offers an array of support services to help patients and families in their pancreatic cancer care journey.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a pancreatic cancer specialist, complete our online form or call 214-645-8300.