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Pancreatic Cancer Chemotherapy

As a treatment option for pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy involves the use of anticancer drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to reduce pain and other problems that can result from pancreatic cancer. This treatment option may result in side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, an increased risk of infections, loss of appetite, and nausea.

Can Chemotherapy Treat Pancreatic Cancer?

Chemotherapy is a treatment for pancreatic cancer that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Doctors may also use chemotherapy to help reduce pain and other problems caused by pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy may be given alone, with radiation, or with surgery and radiation.
 
In the case of pancreatic cancer, anticancer drugs can be administered as systemic or regional chemotherapy. Systemic chemotherapy, taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, allows the drugs to enter the bloodstream and reach cancer cells throughout the body. Regional chemotherapy allows the drugs to affect cancer cells in specific areas, depending on where the medicines are placed.
 
Although chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer is normally an outpatient treatment given at the hospital, clinic, doctor's office, or home, people may need to stay in the hospital for treatment in some cases.
 

Side Effects of Pancreatic Cancer Chemotherapy

The side effects of this treatment will depend on the drugs and the doses that the person receives. They can vary from person to person and even from one treatment session to the next.
 
Pancreatic cancer chemotherapy affects rapidly dividing cells throughout the body, including blood cells. Blood cells fight infection, help the blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When anticancer drugs damage blood cells, people are more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and have less energy.
 
Other cells that may be affected include the cells in hair roots and the cells that line the digestive tract. As a result, people may lose their hair and have a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, or mouth sores. In most cases, these side effects will go away during the recovery periods between treatments or after treatment is complete.
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