Pancreatic Cancer and Chemotherapy
When the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas and cannot be completely removed by surgery, then chemotherapy is used to attack and kill cancer cells, often together with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is applied most commonly in Stages 2, 3, and 4 of pancreatic cancer.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are normally injected with a needle into the bloodstream, though in some cases they can also be swallowed. Sometimes chemotherapy is combined with targeted drug treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Side effects of chemotherapy will vary, but generally include hair loss, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and reduced immunity to infections. But these side effects usually recede during breaks between treatments, and they go away after treatments are concluded.
National Institutes of Health. 2001. “What You Need to Know About Cancers of the Pancreas.” (Online booklet)
Mayo Clinic Staff. 2010. “Pancreatic Cancer: Treatments and Drugs.” (Online) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pancreatic-cancer/DS00357/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
A.P. John Institute for Cancer Research. 2009. “Pancreatic Cancer.” (Online) http://www.apjohncancerinstitute.org/cancer/pancreatic.htm
National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health. 2009. “Pancreatic Cancer Treatment.” (Online) http://nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pancreatic/Patient/page4.