Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer: What treatment options are there?

Posted by search4healing @search4healing, Apr 12, 2019

I recently watched a news clip on the national news about advances made in the treatment of inoperative pancreatic tumors, which consisted of chemo therapy treatment (to completely kill the tumor, didn’t know that was possible) followed by radiation…and a third step. Was wondering if anyone knows more about this more recent revelation? My wife has been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, the tumor is at the head of the pancreases and is obstructing/enclosing the bile duct and some major blood vessels. I have been told it is inoperable. Diagnosed in October and receiving 2 chemo drugs since November, every other week. No metastasizing of the cancer at this point but the tumor itself appears to have grown. Told whipple procedure is not an option. Does anyone else know of a similar situation and or other possible treatment options? I was hoping to learn more about the recent news report I mentioned above.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Pancreatic Cancer group.

Hi @search4healing, welcome to Connect.
I'd like to introduce you to some other members living with pancreatic cancer, like @nogginquest @lbern @margaretrivers and @marvinjsturing. You might also be interested in reading these discussions where members are talking about treatments options for inoperable cancer.
– Pancreatic cancer https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pancreatic-cancer-1/
– Pancreatic Cancer Stage IV and in partial remission https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pancreatic-cancer-stage-iv-and-in-partial-remission/

What chemo treatment is your wife getting? How is she managing the side effects?

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I think I found the TV news story your referred to here:
NBC News | Pancreatic cancer is often deadly, but a new approach is raising hopehttps://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/pancreatic-cancer-often-deadly-new-approach-raising-hope-n991511

The story features Dr. Mark Truty, a surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic. You can read more about his work here:
– A revolution in pancreatic cancer treatment https://advancingthescience.mayo.edu/2018/07/02/a-revolution-in-pancreatic-cancer-treatment/

Is this the information you were looking for, @search4healing?

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Colleen, thanks for the response. My wife currently receives two chemo drugs, Fulfironox and Oxciliplatin. At one point they gave her a third chemo drug but that made her deathly sick and totally wiped out her white blood cell count, was hospitalized for several weeks. So of course she had only received it that one time. She continues to receive these 2 chemo drugs I mentioned but the doctor said she will have to come off the Oxciliplatin soon. She has had 7 or 8 chemo sessions thus far and with the exception of the round with the third chemo drug (which triggered severe nausea, diarrhea, and a high temp it took them a few weeks to get back under control….she rarely complains of any pain (when she does, it is in the stomach) no nausea, or other side effects except she says EVERYTHING tastes like cardboard and she really doesn't eat much. She is often cold and only recently is starting to complain of very slight tingling in her fingers when she is trying to cut up vegetables or other similar tasks.

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@search4healing

Colleen, thanks for the response. My wife currently receives two chemo drugs, Fulfironox and Oxciliplatin. At one point they gave her a third chemo drug but that made her deathly sick and totally wiped out her white blood cell count, was hospitalized for several weeks. So of course she had only received it that one time. She continues to receive these 2 chemo drugs I mentioned but the doctor said she will have to come off the Oxciliplatin soon. She has had 7 or 8 chemo sessions thus far and with the exception of the round with the third chemo drug (which triggered severe nausea, diarrhea, and a high temp it took them a few weeks to get back under control….she rarely complains of any pain (when she does, it is in the stomach) no nausea, or other side effects except she says EVERYTHING tastes like cardboard and she really doesn't eat much. She is often cold and only recently is starting to complain of very slight tingling in her fingers when she is trying to cut up vegetables or other similar tasks.

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and Yes that was the story I saw on the news…thank you…I would like to learn more about his new approach.

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I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aI t the end of December. I'm being treated with chemotherapy and the tumor has shrunk. I was told that I'm not a candidate for the whipple procedure as the tumor is touching some veins and a major artery, The doctors here say that it's too dangerous to surgically remove the tumor. Has anyone had a similar diagnosis and what was done?

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@jcf83036

I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aI t the end of December. I'm being treated with chemotherapy and the tumor has shrunk. I was told that I'm not a candidate for the whipple procedure as the tumor is touching some veins and a major artery, The doctors here say that it's too dangerous to surgically remove the tumor. Has anyone had a similar diagnosis and what was done?

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Seek another opinion. I did at Mayo Clinic Rochester, Mn with Dr. Mark Truty. He did my operation when University of Michigan aborted my surgery because of vein involvement.
I’m so glad I sought another opinion.

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@jcf83036

I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aI t the end of December. I'm being treated with chemotherapy and the tumor has shrunk. I was told that I'm not a candidate for the whipple procedure as the tumor is touching some veins and a major artery, The doctors here say that it's too dangerous to surgically remove the tumor. Has anyone had a similar diagnosis and what was done?

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If the medical team you saw said they can't perform the surgery, believe them but get a second opinion. My wife had extensive arterial involvement which was significantly reduced after chemo and radiation and then had surgery at Johns Hopkins, not the local surgeon who was incapable of the surgery.

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@jcf83036

I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aI t the end of December. I'm being treated with chemotherapy and the tumor has shrunk. I was told that I'm not a candidate for the whipple procedure as the tumor is touching some veins and a major artery, The doctors here say that it's too dangerous to surgically remove the tumor. Has anyone had a similar diagnosis and what was done?

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Hi @jcf83036, great to hear that chemo has shrunk the tumor. Not everyone is a candidate for Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer. But I have to agree with @kyaeger and @beachdog about getting a second opinion.

Here's a related discussion with more information
– Getting a second opinion on treatment from Mayo https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/getting-a-second-opinion-on-treatment-from-mayo/

Are you being treated at a major cancer center?

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@jcf83036

I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aI t the end of December. I'm being treated with chemotherapy and the tumor has shrunk. I was told that I'm not a candidate for the whipple procedure as the tumor is touching some veins and a major artery, The doctors here say that it's too dangerous to surgically remove the tumor. Has anyone had a similar diagnosis and what was done?

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Thank you Coleen Young. I am being treated at Weill Cornell/NY Presbyterian in New York. When the treatment is finished, I will request a second opinion from Menorial Sloan Kettering here in New York.

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Every Dr involved with my husbands chemo said they don’t see a surgery in the future. He is having chemo. When I said radiation after chemo I’m met with a stoic face. He has chemo til the end of July. Then a ct scan.
Just hoping here.

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@anto1nette

Every Dr involved with my husbands chemo said they don’t see a surgery in the future. He is having chemo. When I said radiation after chemo I’m met with a stoic face. He has chemo til the end of July. Then a ct scan.
Just hoping here.

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Hi @anto1nette, I moved your post to this existing discussion with other members for whom surgery was not an operation as a treatment for their pancreatic cancer. It sounds like you’re not getting the information in the way that you need it from your husband’s care team. Have you considered meeting with an oncology social worker?

Here’s a blog written by the oncology social work team at Mayo Clinic. They describe best
– How an Oncology Social Worker Can Help https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/cancer-education-center/newsfeed-post/how-an-oncology-social-worker-can-help/

Among other things, a social work can answer questions as well as help you interpret your husband’s diagnosis, treatment options, and how to prepare for what is to come and what you can expect. As the article states, they can be a vital bridge between you and your medical team.

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@anto1nette

Every Dr involved with my husbands chemo said they don’t see a surgery in the future. He is having chemo. When I said radiation after chemo I’m met with a stoic face. He has chemo til the end of July. Then a ct scan.
Just hoping here.

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@anto1nette You don't mention where your husband is receiving treatment or if you have gotten a second opinion. Pancreatic surgery is highly specialized and if the doctors you've seen aren't extremely experienced with pancreatic surgery they might not see a surgical path possible. Other specialists might be more optimistic and surgery might become more viable after completing chemo. Many pancreatic patients receive chemo in order to improve enough for surgery. Good luck.

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