Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation therapy is a method used to kill cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery. It can also be used to ease problems from cancer that has spread and help you live longer.

Radiation therapy is most often used with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation).

This type of cancer is treated by a machine outside the body. Short bursts are aimed at the cancer. The beam can send as much radiation to the site as possible.

The types used are:

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

Some problems are:

  • Dry, irritated skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling tired because of anemia

Talk to your healthcare team as soon as these problems happen. There are ways to treat them. The sooner it’s done, the better control you will have over them. Sometimes, the radiation dose can be changed.



De La Cruz MD, Young AP, et al. Diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(8):626-632.
Management of pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed October 3, 2020.
Radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/treating/radiation-therapy.html. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/patient/pancreatic-treatment-pdq#section/_162. Accessed October 3, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/29/2020

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