St. Helena Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

We focus on patient comfort and recovery

Most pancreatic cancers form in the exocrine cells, which are responsible for creating enzymes that aid in digestion. Unfortunately, these types of tumors do not secrete hormones or manifest any symptoms. As a result, it Is extremely rare to diagnose pancreatic cancer in the early stages. Furthermore, there are no proven treatments known to cure this type of cancer, but that does not mean recovery is impossible.

For most patients with pancreatic cancer, treatment is focused on improving their comfort and quality of life. At the Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center, our team will discuss options with you and your loved ones and figure out the treatment plan that works best for your situation.

What to expect when you have pancreatic cancer

Though there are no symptoms in the early stages of pancreatic cancer, you can expect some complications as the disease progresses.

Some complications of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Weight loss: Loss of appetite from nausea and vomiting often result in weight loss. It is also more difficult to digest food because the production of digestive enzymes is hampered.
  • Jaundice: Jaundice is a condition that causes yellowing in the skin and eyes. It is caused by a buildup of waste material in the blood.
  • Bowel problems: A pancreatic tumor can press on the small intestine and create a bowel obstruction.
  • Pain: Pancreatic tumors sometimes expert pressure on nerves in the abdomen, resulting in abdominal pain that extends to the lower back.
  • Fatigue: With lack of appetite, it is more difficult to get the nutrients you need to feel active. This results in fatigue.

A major part of pancreatic treatments is focused on managing these symptoms. We strive to make our patients feel as comfortable as possible.

Possible treatments

In the rare cases that pancreatic cancer is caught in the early stages, it may be possible to remove tumors before they spread. Treatment is usually a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In later stages, when it is unlikely the cancer can be removed, treatment is focused on slowing the spread of cancer and helping patients manage symptoms in palliative care.