The treatments for pancreatic cancer in general include those that remove the cancer, those that prevent the cancer from advancing, and those that relieve symptoms. However, only a small percentage of pancreatic cancers are discovered in time to be surgically removed, and most stage 4 cancers cannot be treated this way because the cancer has spread too far by the time it is discovered. Surgery may still be used as a treatment, but the surgery involved is meant to relieve symptoms, not eliminate the cancer. Stents may be inserted in the body to help bile drain or to allow the intestines to function. Chemotherapy may also be used to keep the cancer from advancing quickly.
In addition, there are a variety of newer treatment options under investigation. These include new drugs, surgeries, and genetic approaches to treating pancreatic cancer. They also include biologic therapies, in which the person's own immune system is stimulated to fight the cancer.