Pancreatic Cancer and Radiation Therapy—External
Radiation therapy, often in combination with chemotherapy, is normally administered in Stages 2 and 3 of pancreatic cancer. Sometimes radiation therapy is applied after surgery for Stage 1 pancreatic cancer, to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Radiation therapy employs high-energy x-ray beams or a radioactive substance to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be applied by a machine outside the body, or through a needle or catheter that injects a radioactive substance directly into the body.
Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, tender skin, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive difficulties. Often these problems can be controlled with dietary adjustments and/or medicine.
National Institutes of Health. 2001. “What You Need to Know About Cancers of the Pancreas.” (Online booklet) http://nci.nih.gov/pdf/WYNTK/WYNTK_pancreas.pdf
Mayo Clinic Staff. 2010. “Pancreatic Cancer: Treatments and Drugs.” (Online)
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