Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, refers to the use of radiation to treat tumors in patients with cancer. With pancreas cancer, we often use radiation therapy to treat patients after surgery, or to treat patients who are not able to receive surgery.

Personalized Treatment Plans

Our patients typically undergo a multi-step process that includes consultation with a radiation oncologist, followed by a “simulation” visit where your radiation oncologist will precisely outline the areas in your body that require treatment. Following the simulation, your radiation oncologist will lead a team of specialists to create a personalized radiation treatment plan. The goal is to treat your pancreas tumor with radiation while avoiding nearby normal organs.

Types of Radiation Therapies

A conventional course of radiation therapy is 15-30 minutes a day for five to six weeks, often received at the same time as chemotherapy. Advanced therapy often used at UC San Diego includes:

  • 3-D conformal radiation therapy
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

For select patients, we offer a more focused form of radiation called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), a new technique that uses higher doses of radiation over a shorter period of time, often a week or less. SBRT relies on advanced imaging techniques such as four-dimensional imaging and real-time image tracking techniques (gating) to safely deliver higher radiation doses. Learn more about SBRT.

For more information, see UC San Diego’s Department of Radiation Oncology.