Questions and Answers about Pancreatic Cancer

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager Emeritus, Oncology Social Work

JANUARY 23, 2019

What are your questions about pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a serious diagnosis, and one that is universally dreaded. I have a longtime patient who was treated years ago for breast cancer and has recently finished treatment for pancreatic cancer. She talks often of the differences between the two experiences. One of the most important has been other peoples’ reactions and obvious distress. While almost everyone knows someone who has been treated for breast cancer and done well, fewer people have had that experience with pancreatic cancer.

You may be aware that BIDMC has partnered with Cancer Connect to offer many online groups and other resources to our patients. When you sign up, you will see a long list of online support groups on the right side of your screen. This is a really helpful and supportive way to “talk” with others in a similar situation to your own. Learn more about this free and helpful service.

Recently, James Moser, MD, co-director of the Pancreas and Liver Institute at BIDMC and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues answered a number of submitted questions about the management of pancreatic cancer. These include:

  • Are there any new precision cancer medicines in development for the treatment of pancreatic cancer that appear promising?
  • I have heard of all sorts of advice for treatment of recurrent metastatic pancreatic cancer "out there" and some success stories, but don't know what to listen to and consider and what to disregard. Is there any evidence that eliminating sugar, cannabis or mega vitamins can slow the growth of the cancer?
  • I have read about vaccines being developed for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and I have low volume of disease. Are there any currently available?
  • If a pancreatic cancer can be surgically removed is it better to get chemotherapy/radiation before or after the Whipple surgery?
  • I am currently in remission a second time following chemotherapy treatment of pancreatic cancer. Since it is likely to come back is there anything I should take or do to prevent recurrence while the cancer is controlled?

It is very encouraging to read these answers. While pancreatic cancer is still a major problem, real progress is being made in offering treatments that extend lives. Read more about managing and treating pancreatic cancer.

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