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Pancreatic Cancer Chemotherapy  

Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer which is caused when cancer cells originate and grow within the pancreas.  It often has very subtle symptoms and can therefore be difficult to diagnose in the early stages.  However once it has been diagnosed, there are a number of treatments which can be used to battle this disease.  One of the options involves pancreatic cancer chemotherapy.  Some further details on this type of treatment including expected benefits and some side effects and complications will be reviewed. 

Pancreatic cancer chemotherapy is a type of treatment in which special kinds of drugs are introduced to the body in several different ways.  These drugs have the ability to react with cells which reproduce faster than other normal human cells.  Since cancer cells reproduce in an abnormal and rapid fashion, these drugs can be very effective at finding and killing these cancer cells. 

This type of therapy can deliver the drugs into the body through external means.  This can include taking the drugs orally or having them injected into the blood stream.  When this occurs the drugs travel through the body until they find cancer cells to react with. 

Another way of introducing these special drugs to the cancer site is to use pellets or small discs which contain the drug and implant them very close to the cancer tissue.  In this way the drugs may have a better opportunity to react as much as possible with cancer cells and not healthy cells. 

The reason why chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells is due to the fact that these drugs will tend to react with cells which grow faster than most other cells.  Hair cells and many of the cells which line the stomach do tend to grow much faster than other healthy cells so the anti-cancer drugs can often mistake these cells for cancer cells and damage or destroy them. 

When this occurs it can create a number of important side effects.  Some of the common side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and hair loss.  In general once the course of treatment ends, these side effects will go away. 

It should be noted that pancreatic cancer chemotherapy is not used extensively for the treatment of this disease.  In most cases the cancerous tissue is removed surgically.  However chemotherapy may be of benefit in treating the excised area with the goal of killing any remaining cancer cells. 

This treatment may also be used to initially shrink the tumor so that it becomes more localized and easier to remove.  Chemotherapy is also often used for advanced cases of pancreatic cancer where it has spread beyond the pancreas and affected other organs.  In this case surgery would only be minimally effective since the cancer is too extensive to be removed in this manner. 

But pancreatic cancer chemotherapy can be helpful in addressing some of the symptoms of  advanced cancer especially pain relief.  It is also an important way of trying to slow the progression of the disease and extend the life of these cancer patients for as long as possible. 

So it is not necessarily used so much as a cure but rather as a way to extend life and improve the quality of life.  But there have also been some recent developments in drugs used as well as delivery systems which can make this type of treatment much more effective in fighting this type of cancer.