Pancreatic Cancer (cont.)
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Pancreatic Cancer Medications
The following chemotherapy drugs may be included as part of the treatment regimen depending on the stage of pancreatic cancer:
Currently, many other drugs are being investigated for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, generally in combination with gemcitabine. These drugs include bevacizumab, vatalanib, cetuximab, and erlotinib. Whether any of these drugs will improve the results obtained with gemcitabine alone is not yet known. Other drugs like S-1 may be found to increase survival times. Enrollment in clinical trials is encouraged.
Medications are available to alleviate the side effects of the treatments. If side effects occur, an oncologist should be notified so that they can be addressed promptly. An oncologist also monitors blood and urine for signs of toxicity.
Pancrelipase (pancreatic enzyme replacement) may be given if the function of the pancreas is impaired, usually after the surgical removal of a portion of the pancreas. This oral medication is taken with meals to aid in the digestion of food and in the prevention of steatorrhea.
Pain may be associated with pancreatic cancer, and a variety of pain medications exist to help control any discomfort. Good communication with the oncologist and nurses allows for optimal management of pain.
Timothy Kuo, MD
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