Pancreatic cancer treatment may include surgery alone, a combination of surgery and proton therapy, or proton therapy alone, as well as chemotherapy.

The nature of pancreatic cancer, combined with the location of the pancreas and its proximity to other sensitive tissues, can make the disease challenging to treat. In most cases, surgery is the first method of treatment of pancreatic cancer to be considered. However, in many cases surgery cannot be performed or is insufficient to control the disease. In such patients, proton therapy for pancreatic cancer treatment can be helpful as well as chemotherapy.

Even when it is possible to completely remove the adenocarcinoma with surgery, the chance of successful pancreatic cancer treatment is very low; proton therapy for pancreatic cancer may be used after surgery to improve disease control, before surgery to shrink the pancreatic tumor, leading to more effective surgery, or in lieu of surgery. In most cases, chemotherapy is also considered. 

The Difference Proton Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer Can Make

While some pancreatic cancers can be successfully treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, traditional forms of radiation can sometimes prove problematic. That’s because the organs that surround the pancreas – including the small intestine, kidneys, spinal cord and stomach – cannot withstand high doses of radiation. 

Thanks to the highly precise nature of proton therapy for pancreatic cancer, however, the radiation dose is concentrated at the site of the pancreatic cancer, sparing other healthy organs exposure to radiation, and decreasing the risk of side effects.

And, since higher doses of radiation can be delivered to the pancreas with a lower risk of damage to other organs, the chance of destroying the pancreatic cancer is potentially greater. 

Physicians at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute are using proton therapy to treat both operable and inoperable pancreatic cancers in an effort to improve the cure rate for this difficult disease. They have already proven the advantages over conventional radiation therapy in terms of radiation dose distribution (REF Nichols) and demonstrated minimal side effects (REF Nichols) with proton therapy. Ongoing trials at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute include postoperative proton therapy in resected pancreatic cancers, preoperative proton therapy in borderline resectable pancreatic cancer, and proton therapy in unresectable pancreatic cancer. If you are interested in pancreatic cancer treatment with proton therapy, and would like to know if you are eligible, contact the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute today.

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