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Pancreatic cancer

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Treatments for recurrent pancreatic cancer

The following are treatment options for recurrent pancreatic cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Recurrent pancreatic cancer may be treated with one or more of the following.


Chemotherapy is a common treatment for recurrent pancreatic cancer. The type of chemotherapy used will depend on the chemotherapy drugs you had to treat the original tumour.

The chemotherapy drugs and combinations used include:

  • gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • FOLFIRINOX – leucovorin (folinic acid), 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU), irinotecan (Camptosar) and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
  • 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin (Platinol AQ)
  • gemcitabine and cisplatin


Palliative surgery may be used to relieve symptoms of recurrent pancreatic cancer. It isn’t used to treat the cancer itself.

Pancreatic tumours often cause a blockage in the common bile duct or the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The types of surgery used to remove blockages are:

  • surgical bypass
  • stent placement

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be offered to control pain from recurrent pancreatic cancer.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy may be offered for recurrent pancreatic cancer. The most common targeted therapy drug used is erlotinib (Tarceva).

Clinical trials

You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for recurrent pancreatic cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.


Researchers Dr John White and Dr James Gleason Dr John White is developing a new 2-in-1 cancer treatment to outsmart drug resistance.

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Funding lifesaving clinical trials

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The Canadian Cancer Society is funding lifesaving clinical trials that give people with cancer access to the newest types of treatment.

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