About 20 to 30 percent of pancreatic cancers can be removed surgically. Surgeons are able to use minimally invasive approaches for selected pancreatic surgeries, enabling patients to recover more quickly, return to their normal activities, and begin postoperative treatment sooner. One of the newest minimally invasive tools is the da Vinci® surgical robot, which surgeons can employ to facilitate the removal of some of the most complex pancreatic tumors.
Surgeons have also made improvements in the treatment of regionally advanced tumors that were formally considered inoperable. For some patients, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can shrink a tumor enough to make it operable.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also mainstays of treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer that is not amenable to surgery. Doctors often use a combination of anticancer drugs. Patients who need radiation therapy can receive this treatment at the Perlmutter Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated outpatient cancer center in New York that houses a radiation therapy suite on-site.
Because new therapies for pancreatic cancer are urgently needed, Perlmutter Cancer Center investigators are also participating in clinical trials assessing novel treatment approaches.