At Central Maine Healthcare, our oncologists treat patients with pancreatic cancer, so they understand the disease well and apply their depth of experience to provide the best care for each person. You can take on your treatment with peace of mind.
Personalized Treatment Plans
If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your cancer care team at Central Maine Healthcare will work together to create the treatment plan that will work best for you. It will take into account the stage and location of your cancer, your overall health and personal preferences.
An operation to remove the cancer is one option you and your doctors may consider. There are two kinds of surgery for pancreatic cancer. The first is done only in situations where doctors are confident they can remove all the cancer. It’s called “potentially curative,” meaning it may cure the cancer. The second – called “palliative” — is done when imaging tests show that the cancer is too widespread to be removed by surgery. Its goal is only to relieve symptoms or prevent complications, not to cure the cancer.
In rare instances, a third approach is done by surgeons who are highly experienced with operating on pancreatic tumors and only in patients whose cancer has not spread too far. It begins with chemotherapy and radiation to weaken the cancer over several months. After these treatments, a surgeon will conduct a very long surgery – as much as 14 hours – to remove the remaining cancer. It’s a difficult surgery for both doctor and patient. Talk to your doctor about whether this treatment may make sense for you.
Radiation therapy is the use of x-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. It may be used in situations where surgery is too dangerous. It may also be used before or after surgery, and/or in combination with chemotherapy.
This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs injected into a vein or taken by mouth (orally). It is sometimes combined with radiation treatment (called chemoradiation) to treat cancer that has spread to organs near the pancreas, but not to more distant areas of the body.
Your cancer care team may advise palliative treatments to help relieve pain and other symptoms. These treatments may use any of the techniques listed above. Palliative is not the same as hospice care.
Taking Care of the Whole You
Wherever your journey takes you, we’re here to support you. We offer a complete range of support services designed to pick up where medical treatments leave off. They include a nurse navigator whose job is to guide you through the entire process of cancer diagnosis and treatment. An oncology social worker can put you in touch with resources including financial counseling, nutritional support and cancer education classes. And our Arbor House hospitality facility offers residential options free of charge for you and your family.