When you have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you may wonder if there are any treatment options that available to you. You may not know if there are choices that can give you a chance at keeping you going for as long as possible, let alone beating the cancer entirely. While pancreatic cancer can be tricky to treat (mainly because it is often quite advanced when it is detected), this does not mean that there is nothing you can do. If you have been diagnosed specifically with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, a type of cancer that is not surgically resectable (and has yet to metastasize), there are numerous treatment options available to you. Get to know a few of these options so that you can be prepared to discuss them with your oncologist.
Combined Radiation and Chemotherapy Treatments
Because pancreatic cancer, even if it has not yet spread to other areas of the body, is known to be an aggressive form of cancer, many oncologists prefer to combine two of the more common cancer treatments to attack the cancer cells with equal aggression. As such, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often administered at the same time.
Chemotherapy is the use of different chemicals or drugs that destroy the rapidly reproducing cells in your body. Cancer cells are among the cells that most rapidly reproduce. Radiation therapy, on the other hand, uses x-ray energy that targets your tumors. This is a treatment option designed to damage the cell membranes and cell tissues to destroy the cancer cells and reduce or stop their ability to reproduce.
The idea behind the combination of infusion chemotherapy and radiation therapy (also referred to as chemoradiation), is to not only prevent the cancer from growing or spreading, but also to reduce an unresectable tumor on the pancreas to a resectable one. If the cancer can be fought back to the point that the malignancy can be surgically removed, this is a person's best and virtually only chance at a cure to their pancreatic cancer.
Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is also known as nanoknife cancer surgery or nanoknife ablation treatment. It is a relatively new treatment that is still being studied in clinical trials to help treat locally advanced pancreatic cancer.
Recent studies have shown that the use of this treatment method in locally advanced pancreatic cancer essentially doubles the survival rate for patients who receive the treatment compared to patients who do not. This treatment process involves a minor surgery under local anesthetics. The oncology surgeon will insert small electrodes through the skin and guide them directly to your pancreatic tumor.
Once the electrodes are in place, the surgeon will send electrical pulses through the electrodes to the tumor. These electrical pulses damage the membranes of the cells in the tumor, which makes them less likely to continue to spread and reproduce. It can also help to make them more susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that the nanoknife surgery is designed to support. While this treatment is still in the clinical trial stages, it shows promise and continued studies and possible FDA approval in the future may mean that you can still use this treatment in your fight against pancreatic cancer.
Now that you know a few of the treatment options for your locally advanced pancreatic cancer, you can be sure that you discuss these and any other treatment options with your oncologists to get the best care possible going forward.
For infusion therapy, contact a clinic such as Idaho Arthritis Center.