When is surgery possible?

You will have undergone various tests such as ultrasound scans, CT scans and possibly had an endoscopy to determine that you have pancreatic cancer. These tests are important as they will inform the doctors about the size and position of the tumour and whether it is possible to have it removed (resected).

If there is no sign that the tumour has spread beyond the pancreas and you are fit enough to undergo the operation, your doctors may decide to remove the tumour.

In order to have the tumour resected  doctors need to know:

Early stage pancreatic cancer can be treated with the following surgical procedures:

I have been told I am borderline resectable—what does this mean?

In some cases the tumour may be very close to the major blood vessels and it may be difficult for the surgeons to determine whether it is safe enough to take out the cancer just by looking at the scans. They may decide to begin the operation with a laparoscopic procedure  to make sure it is possible to safely remove the cancer before proceeding on to the full surgery.

In other cases, the doctors may prescribe a course of chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells) or chemo-radiotherapy (radiotherapy along with low-dose chemotherapy) before surgery to try to shrink the cancer to make it operable. This is known as neo-adjuvant treatment.

Patient stories

Here we bring you a collection of people in the UK who are pancreatic cancer patients. Their stories are their own, either written themselves or a family member or we have been given permission to link to a blog where a family member reports on the experience. Click to read patient stories.

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Information Product No. PCA0012 v1 p 3 | Published: 25/01/2013 | Last Updated: 21/04/2015 | Next Review Due: 25/01/2016