Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

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 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 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.

REFERENCES:

De La Cruz MD, Young AP, Ruffin MT. Diagnosis and management of pancreatic cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(8):626-632.

Management of pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906229/Management-of-pancreatic-cancer. Updated August 13, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Pancreatic cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/pancreatic-cancer. Updated October 2017. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/treating/radiation-therapy.html. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/patient/pancreatic-treatment-pdq#section/_162. Updated May 23, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 10/26/2018