Pancreatic cancer is an especially difficult cancer to treat because it is usually diagnosed in late stages when complete removal of the tumor is not an option. If you have inoperable pancreatic cancer, there may be options to help alleviate pain and other effects from the tumor.
Radiation And Chemotherapy
The combination of radiation and chemotherapy is frequently used for inoperable tumors. Although the treatment is unlikely to be curative, the possibility of decreasing tumor size can possibly prolong the life of people with pancreatic cancer and reduce symptoms that are a direct result of the tumor. Some concerns associated with inoperable tumors are their ability to block the flow of bile or compress major blood vessels. Additionally, regular treatments may slow the spread of pancreatic cancer to the surrounding organs. Depending on the stage of pancreatic caner and the size of the tumor, you may need more intensive treatment at the beginning and a lower dose later to maintain the benefits of treatment while reducing side effects.
Nanoknife is an alternative to surgery that may be used to destroy part of a pancreatic tumor that could not be removed through conventional surgery. Electrical currents are used in a precise manner to destroy all or part of the cancerous tumor. Fortunately, the procedure can be done on an outpatient basis by an interventional radiologist. Several electrodes are inserted into a major artery, such as one in the leg, and threaded up to the desired location. Once the electrodes are in place, the electrical signals are started. Normal cancer cells do not enter programmed cell death (apoptosis), but once treated with the Nanoknife the cancer cells go into apoptosis and are eventually eliminated by the body through normal waste removal. One of the major advantages of Nanoknife treatments is the procedure is highly targeted so healthy cells surrounding the tumor can be left unharmed. Additionally, since the procedure only requires local anesthetic where the electrodes are inserted, there is no significant recovery time.
Stents And Bypasses
Some procedures may be used to reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with blocked bile ducts. For example, if you have a large tumor that is blocking the bile ducts, a surgeon may perform a procedure to open the bile ducts and keep it open as long as possible. This type of procedure can be done without surgery and involves using a flexible camera inserted through the esophagus to find the blocked duct. Once the duct is open a stent is inserted and expanded to keep the area open, much like stents used for vascular disease. If a stent is not successful or would not work, a bypass can be used to achieve similar or better benefits. A new route is created so bile can flow to the small intestines and bypass the pancreas.
Even when a pancreatic tumor is inoperable, there are several options to reduce pain and minimize the adverse effects of a growing tumor.