Chemotherapy is often recommended for patients with various stages of pancreatic cancer:
- For surgical candidates, it can be used in combination with surgery and/or radiation.
- For patients with locally advanced disease that is unresectable, it is often considered the primary treatment.
- For patients who are metastatic, meaning their cancer has spread to another organ, it is considered the mainstay of treatment.
Chemotherapy drugs target cells that are dividing at an unusually fast rate, ultimately helping to shrink or destroy malignant tumors of the pancreas.
Chemotherapy drugs are very strong and can sometimes destroy healthy cells along with the cancerous cells, which can cause a range of side effects. However, medical oncologists – the physicians who develop chemotherapy plans – can make adjustments to minimize side effects while maximizing the treatment’s effectiveness. For instance, a medical oncologist can:
- Prescribe different drugs (or different combinations of drugs)
- Reduce the dosage of a patient’s current drug prescription
- Prescribe additional medications to help counteract a patient’s side effects
- Change the length of a patient’s chemotherapy cycle, and occasionally increase the amount of time between cycles to give the patient’s body more time to recover
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our medical oncologists are among the most experienced in the field. Not only do they focus exclusively on the medical management of pancreatic cancer, but they also participate in ongoing research protocols to determine the most effective ways to incorporate chemotherapy in patients’ treatment plans. And, as a result of our robust clinical trials program, our medical oncologists are able to offer patients some of the newest and most targeted chemotherapy medications before they are widely available for use in other institutions.
Additionally, our patients receive individualized chemotherapy plans that account for a number of personal factors – including age, overall health and tumor type. This approach not only improves outcomes, but also helps to ensure that each patient maintains a positive quality of life throughout chemotherapy treatment. And, our patients have access to a broad spectrum of supportive care services to help alleviate any side effects that might occur, all in a single, convenient location.