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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

Recurrent Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Treatment Options for Recurrent Pancreatic Cancer

Treatment options for recurrent pancreatic cancer include the following:

  1. Palliative therapy.
  2. Chemotherapy: fluorouracil [1] or gemcitabine.[2-4]

Palliative therapy

Palliative therapy for recurrent pancreatic cancer includes the following:

  1. Palliative surgical bypass procedures such as endoscopic or radiologically placed stents.[5,6]
  2. Palliative radiation procedures.
  3. Pain relief by celiac axis nerve or intrapleural block (percutaneous).[7]
  4. Other palliative medical care alone.


Chemotherapy occasionally produces objective antitumor response, but the low percentage of significant responses and lack of survival advantage warrant use of therapies under evaluation.[8]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation for Recurrent Pancreatic Cancer

Treatment options under clinical evaluation include the following:

  1. Phase I and II clinical trials evaluating pharmacologic modulation of fluorinated pyrimidines, new anticancer agents, or biological agents.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent pancreatic cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Cullinan SA, Moertel CG, Fleming TR, et al.: A comparison of three chemotherapeutic regimens in the treatment of advanced pancreatic and gastric carcinoma. Fluorouracil vs fluorouracil and doxorubicin vs fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and mitomycin. JAMA 253 (14): 2061-7, 1985. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Rothenberg ML, Moore MJ, Cripps MC, et al.: A phase II trial of gemcitabine in patients with 5-FU-refractory pancreas cancer. Ann Oncol 7 (4): 347-53, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Burris HA 3rd, Moore MJ, Andersen J, et al.: Improvements in survival and clinical benefit with gemcitabine as first-line therapy for patients with advanced pancreas cancer: a randomized trial. J Clin Oncol 15 (6): 2403-13, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Storniolo AM, Enas NH, Brown CA, et al.: An investigational new drug treatment program for patients with gemcitabine: results for over 3000 patients with pancreatic carcinoma. Cancer 85 (6): 1261-8, 1999. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Sohn TA, Lillemoe KD, Cameron JL, et al.: Surgical palliation of unresectable periampullary adenocarcinoma in the 1990s. J Am Coll Surg 188 (6): 658-66; discussion 666-9, 1999. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Baron TH: Expandable metal stents for the treatment of cancerous obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. N Engl J Med 344 (22): 1681-7, 2001. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Polati E, Finco G, Gottin L, et al.: Prospective randomized double-blind trial of neurolytic coeliac plexus block in patients with pancreatic cancer. Br J Surg 85 (2): 199-201, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Royal RE, Wolfe RA, Crane CH: Cancer of the pancreas. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 961-89.
  • Updated: February 6, 2015