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Treating All Stages of Pancreatic Cancer


At Dignity Health, doctors use cancer staging to help plan a personalized pancreatic cancer treatment strategy to fit your needs. Cancer stages tell your doctor the extent of cancer in the body, or how far it has spread. For pancreatic cancer, doctors use a four-stage system that describes whether the cancer has spread and if surgery will be useful. In order to stage cancer, doctors use imaging tests, endoscopic procedures, and biopsies. 

To talk to an oncologist about treatment options by stage for pancreatic cancer in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor online.

Resectable Pancreatic Cancer

Usually, resectable cancers have not spread beyond the pancreas. Because of this, they are easier to remove surgically. About 10 to 15 percent of pancreatic cancers are resectable. 

Even with imaging exams, doctors may not know whether the tumor is resectable until surgery. Doctors may stop the surgery to avoid surgical complications if the cancer can’t be removed.

Borderline Resectable Pancreatic Cancer

Borderline resectable cancers are tumors that are difficult or not possible to remove. Radiation and chemotherapy are often used shrink these tumors and make them resectable.

Unresectable Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

About 35 to 40 percent of pancreatic cancers are locally advanced at the time of diagnosis. Unresectable locally advanced pancreatic cancer has spread beyond the pancreas, but not to distant body sites. Often, the tumor is growing into nearby blood vessels or organs. At this stage, it isn’t possible to surgically remove all the cancer. While surgery doesn’t offer a cure, doctors may still recommend surgery to relieve symptoms.

Unresectable Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

Unresectable metastatic pancreatic cancers have spread to other organs or areas of the body. Surgery can’t completely remove the cancer or offer a cure, but may be useful in relieving symptoms. About half of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed at this stage.

Using these stages, your doctor at Dignity Health can plan the best course of treatment for you. Together, you can discuss treatment goals and benefits based on your stage. 

Dignity Health provides compassionate cancer care for all stages of pancreatic cancer in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.