Read about treatment decisions when you have advanced cancer.
Deciding on treatment can be puzzling when you have advanced cancer. Treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy can help reduce symptoms and can make you feel way better. But they also have side effects that can make you feel unwell for a while.
You must understand:
• What treatment can be done for you
• How it can increase and affect the quality of your life
• What Are the Side Effects?
Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about the benefits and possible side effects. You can ask them. It may also help to talk to a friend or hospital advisor.
Types of treatments
Treatment depends on:
• The size of cancer and its location inside your body
• Treatments you already have
• Your general health
• Your choice
Doctors can offer treatment options. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment with them and ask how they can control any side effects. It helps you make the right decisions for yourself.
You should also consider the factors involved in each treatment, such as:
• If you need more appointments
• If need further testing
• The distance you need to travel to and from the hospital
• It may be necessary to make more choices as the situation changes. It helps to know as much as possible at any time.
You can stop treatment every time you want.
Advanced pancreatic cancer means that the cancer has started in the pancreas but has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy cannot cure cancer but can help control or reduce cancer for a while. It can reduce or control symptoms and improve quality of life.
But chemotherapy does not help people with pancreatic cancer. Some people will feel better with care and some people may live longer. But unfortunately some people who have chemotherapy will not get much benefit. It is advisable to consider the benefits and disadvantages of treatment before deciding whether to do so.
The most common treatment
The most common chemotherapy combination treatment is called FOLFIRINOX.
This is a combination of:
• FOL – Folic Acid (also called leucovorin, calcium folinate or FA)
• F – Fluorouracil (also called 5FU)
• Irin – Irinotecan
• Ox – Oxaliplatino
Where you go for chemotherapy
You usually undergo treatment in your bloodstream at a cancer day clinic. You’ll sit in a chair for a few hours, so it’s a good idea to bring a newspaper, book or electronic device to help you take the time.
You have different types of chemotherapy within a few days. You may be able to take medication through a small portable pump that takes you home.
For some types of chemotherapy you should stay in the hospital. This can be overnight or for several days.
If you decide not to do treatment
You can have medications to help you control symptoms like sickness or illness. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what can help you. You can also ask them to refer you to a local symptom control team to provide home support.