Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays (or particles) to kill cancer cells. It can be helpful in treating some pancreatic cancers.
The type of radiation most often used to treat pancreatic cancer (known as external beam radiation therapy) focuses radiation from a source outside of the body on the cancer.
Getting radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is stronger. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer. Most often, radiation treatments are given 5 days a week for several weeks.
Some of the more common side effects of radiation therapy include:
Radiation can also lower blood counts, which can increase the risk of serious infection.
Usually these effects go away within a few weeks after the treatment is complete. Ask your doctor what side effects to expect and how to prevent or relieve them.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Mauro LA, Herman JM, Jaffee EM, Laheru DA. Chapter 81: Carcinoma of the pancreas. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Pancreatic Cancer Treatment – for Health Professionals. 2018. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/hp/pancreatic-treatment-pdq on November 1, 2018.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma. V.2.2018. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/pancreatic.pdf on November 1, 2018.
Ryan DP and Mamon H. Initial chemotherapy and radiation for nonmetastatic, locally advanced, unresectable and borderline resectable, exocrine pancreatic cancer. UpToDate website. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/initial-chemotherapy-and-radiation-for-nonmetastatic-locally-advanced-unresectable-and-borderline-resectable-exocrine-pancreatic-cancer. Updated June 26, 2018. Accessed November 1, 2018.
Winter JM, Brody JR, Abrams RA, Lewis NL, Yeo CJ. Chapter 49: Cancer of the Pancreas. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
Last Revised: February 11, 2019
Donate now so we can continue to provide access to critical cancer information, resources, and support to improve lives of people with cancer and their families.