Radiation Can Play an Important Role in Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Posted by Hollie Williams on July 17th, 2016

With one of the lowest five-year survival rates of all forms of cancer, it is no secret that pancreatic cancer is one of the scariest diagnoses a person can receive. Although somewhat rare, this form of cancer is continuing to grow in diagnosis rate while effective treatments remain elusive. Researchers are finding, however, that in some cases radiation can help improve outcomes at least for a time.

A recent study looked into the benefits of following pancreatic cancer surgery with adjuvant radiotherapy. The findings overall indicated that radiation can bolster the effects of surgery and prolong better control of pancreatic cancer, lowering risk for locoregional recurrence in some patients.

Heretofore, there has been some dispute in the medical community about the use of radiation on patients who have operable pancreatic cancer. Some studies have shown benefits and others have not. To arrive at findings supporting the use of radiation therapy after surgery, researchers reviewed data related to more than 450 pancreatic cancer patients. Researchers found that patients who underwent adjuvant chemoradiotherapy had better five-year outcomes than those who followed surgery with chemotherapy alone. The numbers associated with the large-scale study indicated that adding radiation into a protocol that involves surgery and chemotherapy can improve cancer recurrence rates. Researchers also suggested personalizing treatments based upon how tumors respond.

Pancreatic cancer affects an estimated 53,000 Americans, men and women alike, each year. Roughly 41,700 people die from the disease annually. All told, this form of cancer is responsible for about 7 percent of all cancer deaths reported in the United States.

Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate that is lower than 10 percent. While considered among the deadliest forms of the disease, there have been very few breakthroughs in its treatment or detection in recent years. People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer include diabetics, those with a family history and those who suffer from chronic pancreatitis, among other risk factors.

While standard early screening procedures for this form of the disease are not available, doctors do have tools to help them screen patients at the highest risk. People who are concerned about pancreatic cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Like many other forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer can sometimes be successfully treated when caught in its earliest phases. Catching the disease, however, is complicated by the fact it tends to present initially with very few, if any, symptoms.

About Author

The Sandler-Kenner Foundation was started by Gregory A. Echt, M.D. and his wife, Susan T. Echt, after they lost two of their dear friends, Michael and Peter, to premature deaths from pancreatic cancer.

Like it? Share it!

Hollie Williams

About the Author

Hollie Williams
Joined: September 18th, 2015
Articles Posted: 25

More by this author