Radiation for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation therapy may be a treatment option for pancreatic cancer patients. Typically, radiation therapy comes in one of two forms: external beam radiation (radiation beams are delivered from outside the patient’s body using a machine) and internal radiation (a radioactive seed or pellet is implanted directly in or near the tumor inside the body). While radiation therapy may be helpful in treating exocrine pancreatic cancers, it is not usually recommended for treating pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors; it may, however, prove useful for pain management in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that have metastasized to bone.

couple and doctor
Radiation therapy may be a treatment option for pancreatic cancer patients.

 Every patient and cancer is unique, and oncologists take many factors into account when determining whether, and in what manner, to administer radiation therapy. For the treatment of pancreatic cancer, radiation therapy may be used:

  • Alone, as the primary form of treatment – In some situations, surgery is not possible, or a patient is not able to receive chemotherapy. In either scenario, an oncology team may recommend radiation therapy as the main treatment.
  • In combination with chemotherapy – Some types of chemotherapy drugs can act as radiosensitizers, meaning that they can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation so that the radiation therapy is more likely to effectively destroy the cancer.
  • Before or after surgery – Radiation therapy may be used prior to surgery to shrink the tumor and make the surgical procedure easier/possible. Or, sometimes radiation therapy is administered after surgery to remove lingering cancer cells and decrease the chance of recurrence.

The Radiation Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology. This prestigious accreditation is offered to a select few centers across the nation and is a reflection of our high-quality care. At Moffitt, pancreatic cancer patients have access to the most advanced radiation therapy options, including stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), which delivers high-dose treatment with precision accuracy in one to five sessions. Longer-course therapy is also an option and is administered using various innovative techniques, including three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D CRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and tomotherapy. More importantly, our experienced team includes oncologists who are highly specialized in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and capable of using these advanced methods in the most effective ways possible.

For more information about how radiation therapy is used for treating pancreatic cancer, call 1-888-MOFFITT. Or, schedule an appointment by completing our convenient online registration form. No referral is needed to meet with our pancreatic cancer team.