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Modern management of pancreatic carcinoma

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Pancreatic cancer remains a fearsome disease. New insights into the molecular pathogenesis may influence choice of treatment modalities and provide avenues for novel therapeutic strategies for testing in the clinic. The survival rate of patients with all stages of disease is poor and clinical trials are appropriate alternatives for treatment and should be considered. Surgical resection, when possible, remains the primary treatment modality and can result in long-term cure. Less invasive techniques such as laparoscopy may reduce the rate of unnecessary laparotomies. The role of adjuvant therapy is re-emerging. Patients with unresectable and metastatic disease are incurable and optimal palliation is the goal. These patients may benefit from palliative bypass of biliary or duodenal obstruction if symptomatic. Pain associated with local tumour infiltration may be palliated with radiation, with or without chemotherapy, or with coeliac nerve blocks or local neurosurgical procedures. Chemotherapy with gemcitabine has modest objective response rates but has been shown to improve symptoms. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 475−481)

Keywords: chemotherapy; palliative care; pancreatic cancer; radiation therapy; surgery

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1444-0903.2004.00658.x

Affiliations: 1: Medical Oncology, 2: Radiation Oncology and 3: Department of Gastroenterology, Bankstown-Lidcombe and Liverpool Hospitals and The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 4: Surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital, and

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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