Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Cancer Care

Fremont and San Leandro Medical Centers

Overview

Pancreatic cancer starts in the pancreas, the pear-shaped organ that sits behind the stomach. Pancreatic cancer develops when normal cells in your pancreas change and start to grow uncontrollably.

Following diagnosis, we can discuss the treatment options and develop a plan that is right for you. Standard treatment options for pancreatic cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Surgery

Surgery may be an option if you have early-stage pancreatic cancer. There are 3 types of surgery to treat early-stage pancreatic cancer:

  • Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) is the most common surgery to remove exocrine pancreatic cancer. We remove the wide end of your pancreas (the head) and sometimes some of the middle part (the body). We also remove part of your stomach, your gallbladder, your bile duct, and part of your small intestine. Because we do not remove the entire pancreas, it still produces digestive juices and hormones such as insulin.
  • Distal pancreatectomy treats cancer found in the narrow end (tail) of your pancreas. We remove the tail and body of the pancreas, often along with the spleen. This surgery is typically used to treat pancreatic endocrine tumors found in the tail or body of your pancreas. It is rarely used to treat exocrine pancreatic cancer because these tumors have usually spread too far by the time they are diagnosed.
  • Total pancreatectomy may be used to treat cancer that has spread throughout your pancreas. We remove your entire pancreas, part of your small intestine, part of your stomach, your bile duct, your spleen, your gallbladder, and lymph nodes near your pancreas. This type of surgery is seldom used.

You may receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both after surgery. This additional treatment, called adjuvant therapy, attempts to kill any remaining cancer cells and decrease the risk of the cancer recurring.

Surgery Side Effects

Pancreatic surgery is a major operation, and recovery takes time. The hospitalization depends on the extent of your surgery and whether you experience any problems related to surgery. You will then need to rest at home for 1 to 3 months. Possible side effects of pancreatic surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bloating or a full feeling
  • Difficulty digesting food
  • Leaking from the new organ connections

If your entire pancreas is removed, diabetes is another side effect. Although you can live without a pancreas, you no longer have the cells needed to make insulin. Diabetes develops and requires diligent treatment. We can also refer you to a registered dietitian who can help reduce discomforts related to eating.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. The most common type used for pancreatic cancer is external-beam radiation therapy, which delivers radiation from a machine outside your body. Radiation treatments are typically given 5 days a week for a period of weeks.

Radiation may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill cancer cells left in the body. For advanced pancreatic cancers that cannot be removed with surgery, radiation therapy helps ease pain and other symptoms. Often, chemotherapy is given along with radiation.

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Possible side effects of external-beam radiation therapy include:

  • Skin changes, such as redness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea

We can help manage the side effects of radiation therapy so they do not interfere with your quality of life.

Additional References:

Chemotherapy

You may receive chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be delivered through a vein or as a pill. Known as systemic chemotherapy, these drugs enter the bloodstream and attack pancreatic cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given alone or in combination with radiation therapy after surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer. For advanced cancers, chemotherapy may be used to slow down the disease and relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy may also be used in combination with targeted therapy to treat certain advanced pancreatic cancers.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs that circulate through the entire body can cause a variety of side effects. These include:

  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood cell counts

Other side effects may occur depending on the chemotherapy drugs you receive. Although most side effects of chemotherapy go away when treatment ends, notify us as soon as you experience symptoms so we can help you to manage them.

Additional References:

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a relatively new approach to treating cancer. It involves the use of drugs that target specific parts of the cancer cell that help it survive and grow. Targeted drugs are available to treat advanced cases of both exocrine pancreatic cancers and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. For advanced exocrine pancreatic cancer, a targeted drug can slow down or block the signal that tells the cancer cell to grow out of control.

Targeted Therapy Side Effects

Because targeted drugs take aim specifically at cancer cells, they cause less collateral damage to healthy cells. But targeted drugs for pancreatic cancer are not without side effects, which may include:

  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Hand-foot syndrome (pain, swelling, or blisters on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet)
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Increased risk of infections

Side effects vary depending on which targeted drug you receive. We will watch you closely for these and other side effects. Notify us as soon as you notice symptoms so we can help manage them.

Clinical Trials

We are always looking for new and better ways to treat pancreatic cancer. Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments or procedures that may prove better than standard treatments. We will talk with you about whether a clinical trial may be right for you.

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