- Pancreatic Cancer Overview
- Pancreatic Cancer Tumors
- Cancer-Fighting Foods
- Patient Comments: Pancreatic Cancer - Effective Treatments
- Patient Comments: Pancreatic Cancer - Causes
- Patient Comments: Pancreatic Cancer - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Pancreatic Cancer - Prognosis
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
- Pancreatic cancer facts
- What does a pancreas do?
- What is cancer?
- What is pancreatic cancer and its types?
- What are pancreatic cancer causes and risk factors?
- What are pancreatic cancer symptoms and signs?
- How is the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer made?
- How is pancreatic cancer staged?
- What is the treatment for resectable pancreatic cancer?
- What is the treatment for locally advanced unresectable pancreatic cancer?
- What is the treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer?
- What are the side effects of pancreatic cancer treatment?
- What is the survival rate with pancreatic cancer?
- What research is being done on pancreatic cancer?
- Is complimentary or alternative medicine effective in pancreatic cancer treatment?
- Is it possible to prevent pancreatic cancer?
- Where can people get support when coping with pancreatic cancer?
- Where can people find additional information about pancreatic cancer?
Quick GuidePancreatic Cancer Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What are the side effects of pancreatic cancer treatment?
Side effects of treatment for pancreatic cancer vary depending on the type of treatment. For example, radiation treatment (which is a local treatment) side effects tend to accumulate throughout the course of radiation therapy and include fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. Chemotherapy side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy given (less aggressive chemotherapy treatments typically cause fewer side effects whereas more aggressive combination regimens are more toxic) and can include fatigue, loss of appetite, change in taste, hair loss (although not usually), and lowering of the immune system with risk for infections (immunosuppression). While these lists of side effects may seem worrisome, radiation doctors (radiation oncologists) and medical oncologists have much better supportive medications than they did in years past to control any nausea, pain, diarrhea, or immunosuppression related to treatment. The risks associated with pancreatic cancer treatment must be weighed against the inevitable and devastating risks associated with uncontrolled pancreatic cancer and, if the treatments control progression of the cancer, most patients feel better on treatment than they otherwise would.
What is the survival rate with pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is a difficult disease. Even for surgically resectable (and therefore potentially curable) tumors, the risk of cancer recurrence and subsequent death remains high. Only about 20% of patients undergoing a Whipple procedure for potentially curable pancreatic cancer live 5 years, with the rest surviving on average less than 2 years. For patients with incurable (locally advanced unresectable or metastatic) pancreatic cancer, survival is even shorter; typically it is measured in months. With metastatic disease (stage IV), the average survival is just over 6 months. The American Cancer Society statistics suggest that for all stages of pancreatic cancer, the 1-year survival rate is 20%, mortality rate is 80% while the 5-year survival rate is 6% with a mortality rate of 94%. Doctors around the world continue to study this terrible disease and strive to improve treatments, but progress has been difficult to achieve.