Surgery is not a 100% sure cure for pancreatic cancer in the third or fourth stages. Cancer has spread to organs far from the pancreas, such as the peritoneum and lungs. This stage is unsuitable for surgery because cancer has spread to blood vessels in the lymph nodes of the pancreas. If you have a tumor that has reached this stage, you should consult with a doctor.
Adjuvant chemotherapy for unresectable pancreatic cancer
Early-stage patients with pancreatic cancer are often given adjuvant chemoradiotherapy before undergoing surgery. This approach often shrinks the tumor so cancer can be removed during surgery. Although the risk of removing the entire tumor is higher than if the cancer is resectable, the procedure is still a practical option for some patients. However, it is essential to note that adjuvant chemotherapy can also be used as a treatment for unresectable end-stage pancreatic cancer.
One of the most significant trials of adjuvant therapy for end-stage pancreatic cancer compared chemoradiation to surgery alone. The ESPAC-1 trial examined the relative benefit of surgery independently versus chemoradiation. This study is considered the gold standard for adjuvant chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer. It was the first study to compare chemotherapy with radiotherapy and showed significant improvements in survival.
Side effects of chemotherapy
There are several side effects of chemotherapy for end-stage pancreatic tumors. The treatment uses drugs to kill the cancer cells and slow their growth. It may be combined with radiation therapy, which slows down the growth of cancer cells while alleviating symptoms. Patients should consider the side effects of chemotherapy and the quality of their life before deciding whether to undergo this treatment. This article provides a brief overview of the side effects of chemotherapy.
Fortunately, survival rates for pancreatic cancer are rising. According to the American Cancer Society, the average 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer is approximately 10%. However, it is essential to note that survival rates are estimates and depend on several factors, including the patient's age and overall health. Moreover, many oncologists have used neoadjuvant treatment, so the outlook for pancreatic cancer patients may vary.
Treatment options for end-stage pancreatic cancer may be different for each patient. For example, a doctor may recommend radiation therapy for patients whose tumors are still located in the pancreas, have unclear margins following surgery, or have poor general health. Other treatments may include chemotherapy with combination drugs. Patients who cannot tolerate therapy may be referred to a clinical trial. While the selection of treatments is up to the physician, they should be discussed with their family and support team before making any final decisions.
Patients often experience pain if a pancreatic tumor presses on nearby nerves. This can lead to various side effects, including nausea and fatigue. Pain medication isn't usually enough to relieve pain. Depending on the severity of the pain, it may also be injected into the affected area or cut to block the sensation. Radiation therapy, combined with chemotherapy, may be an option to relieve pain. Patients may also require special nutrition, which conventional treatments may not offer.