Chemotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Memorial Sloan Kettering medical oncologists have expert knowledge of the subtleties of chemotherapy regimens. They will build a treatment plan that is designed for you.

Chemotherapy has been shown to extend life for people with pancreatic cancer. It is often:

  • combined with surgery or radiation therapy for tumors confined within the pancreas
  • used as a primary treatment for inoperable tumors that are confined within the pancreas
  • used for people with pancreatic tumors that have spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body

We will carefully tailor your treatment to make sure it’s as effective as possible while also helping maintain your quality of life.

Recent improvements in chemotherapy drugs, along with advances in supportive care, have greatly reduced or even eliminated many of the side effects that people typically experienced in years past.

Chemotherapy is a drug or a combination of drugs we give by vein (intravenously) or by mouth (orally). These drugs are carried throughout the body to kill cancer cells wherever they are located.

Many patients still receive chemotherapy after surgery. We’re also investigating whether chemotherapy given before surgery (called neoadjuvant chemotherapy) may be worthwhile for some people. This approach has already shown to be effective for other types of cancer. It may help reduce the size of more advanced tumors before an operation so that they can be removed with less difficulty.

As leaders in the development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer, we can also often offer you access to clinical trials. These are research studies testing new chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies, immune therapies, and drug combinations that are not available in most other hospitals.