Worldwide cancer survival rates have been improving for the last 40 years, but some types, like pancreatic cancer, lag behind. More than 56,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and scientists and doctors are looking to the most up-to-date technologies available to try to improve those statistics.
Recent developments have made radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer more effective and easier on the body. An improved technique called image-guided radiotherapy uses a low-dose CT scan to verify that the computer model of the patient’s body is perfectly aligned to their position, which improves radiation accuracy and protects normal tissues from unnecessary damage.
Radiation oncologists are also using a newer technique called stereotactic body radiotherapy to treat some pancreatic cancers in just a few days rather than weeks. Because it is new, this approach doesn’t have as much data to support it as long-term treatment and not all patients are eligible, but early results have been promising.
If you are faced with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, keep in mind that every cancer in every patient is different. Because pancreatic cancer is not a common disease like breast or prostate cancer, patients are encouraged to seek treatment at a large university hospital or research-based practice where the most recent developments in cancer testing and therapy are incorporated into everyday treatment.
Good cancer care doesn’t have to be an unbearable burden. You should feel comfortable asking about treatment costs and choosing among capable facilities based on affordability. You are not alone in your journey through cancer.