Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Pancreatic cancer treatments

If you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your doctor will discuss treatment options. Treatment for pancreatic cancer will depend on how far it has spread. It will also depend on where the cancer is, your age, your health and your personal preference.

It may include surgery, endoscopic treatment, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Your doctor may suggest palliative care options to control the tumour and symptoms, make you comfortable and improve your quality of life instead of attempting to cure the tumour.

Surgery

If the cancer is in the early stages, your doctor may recommend surgery. They may recommend the Whipple operation, which is removal of parts of the pancreas, the small bowel (duodenum), the stomach, the gall bladder, and the bile duct.

Radiation therapy

Radiation uses high-energy beams such as to destroy cancer cells. It may be recommended before or after cancer surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy, or with other treatments if surgery isn't an option.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to help kill cancer cells. It can be injected into a vein or taken orally. It may be combined with radiation.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells.

Treating complications of pancreatic cancer

Your doctor may suggest treatments to help with some of the complications that can arise from the cancer. These complications and treatments include:

  • jaundice - placing a stent inside your bile duct to hold it open, or a bypass to create a new way for bile to flow from your liver to your intestines
  • pain - pain medication, radiation therapy, or, in severe cases, an injection into the nerves to stop pain signals going to your brain (a 'coeliac plexus block')
  • bowel obstruction - placing a stent in your small intestine to hold it open, or bypass surgery to attach your stomach to a lower part of your intestines
  • weight loss - eating more food when you can, and pancreatic enzyme supplements to help digestion.

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 82 results

Pancreatic cancer - myDr.com.au

There are many types of pancreatic cancer. Each requires different treatment and has a different outlook for survival. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Read more on myDr website

Pancreatic cancer fact sheet

Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the pancreas grow in an uncontrolled way

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment - Targeting Cancer

Learn more about pancreatic cancer and the different treatments available.

Read more on Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website

Pancreatic Cancer - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Pancreatic cancer is an uncommon condition that usually affects older people. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Pancreatic cancer fact sheet | Cancer Australia

An overview of pancreatic cancer including types, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and finding support.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Pancreatic cancer - Cancer Pathways

Qualified cancer nurses can answer your questions about the effects of cancer, explain what will happen during treatment or link you to support groups and other community resources.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Pancreatic cancer | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Pancreatic cancer - Lab Tests Online AU

For an explanation of the pancreas and the words exocrine and endocrine, please see the description under "What is the pancreas?" in Pancreatic diseases.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

CA 19-9 - Lab Tests Online AU

CA 19-9 is used to help tell the difference between cancer of the pancreas or bile ducts and other conditions; CA 19-9 is used to monitor response to pancreatic cancer treatment and to watch for recurrence.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Pancreatic cancer - Cancer Council Australia

What is pancreatic cancer? Find out about the symptoms, causes, treatment options and more. Get the facts from Cancer Council here.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback