Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the pancreas, which is a gland located behind the stomach that produces hormones such as insulin and also helps with digestion. It is a serious and is usually not detected until it has reached an advanced stage.

As pancreatic cancer becomes increasingly common, much research and money are invested into finding effective treatment options. Treatment regimens may differ depending on cancer's nature, extent and location. Some of the prominent pancreatic cancer types include exocrine pancreatic cancer (Adenocarcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Adenosquamous Carcinoma, Colloid Carcinoma), Neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, and Benign Precancerous lesions.

Imaging tests, such as CT, PET and MRI scans, Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS), biopsy and blood tests to gauge the occurrence of tumour-marker proteins, are often recommended for diagnosing pancreatic cancers. In most cases, surgery is the first step of the treatment. However, occasionally, if the surgery can't be performed or proves inadequate to contain cancer, proton therapy and chemotherapy are used.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Most often, the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer don't present themselves until the cancer has advanced. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain radiating to the back
  • Jaundice– skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow
  • Itchy, irritated skin
  • Appetite loss or rapid weight loss
  • Darkened urine
  • Lightened or discoloured stool
  • Clotting of blood
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Diabetes

Pancreatic cancer Diagnostics and treatments

Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose at an early stage because it typically doesn't cause noticeable symptoms until it has advanced. Some people with pancreatic cancer may experience abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss, or other symptoms. If pancreatic cancer is suspected, a healthcare provider may order a variety of tests to help make a diagnosis, including:

  • Physical exam and medical history: A healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam.
  • Blood tests: Certain substances produced by pancreatic cancer cells may be detected in the blood.
  • Imaging tests: CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans can create detailed images of the pancreas and may help detect pancreatic cancer.
  • Biopsy: A tissue sample may be taken from the pancreas and examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

It is important to see a healthcare provider if you have any persistent symptoms that could be caused by pancreatic cancer or if you have risk factors for the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome.

Benefits Of Proton Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Proton treatment for pancreatic cancer is highly effective and commonly used in pre-operative and postoperative settings. Using proton therapy reduces exposure to radiotherapy-related toxicity. Consequently, it can offer improved results by allowing an increased radiation dose and/or chemotherapy intensification. Further, it was noted that candidates treated with proton therapy for pancreatic tumours were much less likely to experience severe side effects compared to traditional radiation therapy. While it improved the quality of life, there was no distinct difference in their survival rate.

Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons, rather than x-rays, to deliver high-energy radiation to cancer cells. Like other forms of radiation therapy, proton therapy is used to destroy cancer cells and stop them from growing and dividing. It may be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with chemotherapy or other therapies.

There are several potential benefits of proton therapy for pancreatic cancer:

  • Increased precision: Proton therapy can be more precise than other forms of radiation because the protons can be targeted to specific depths within the body. This may help to minimize exposure to healthy tissues and reduce the risk of side effects.
  • Lower risk of long-term side effects: Proton therapy may cause fewer long-term side effects compared to other forms of radiation because it delivers lower doses of radiation to healthy tissues.
  • Fewer treatments: Proton therapy may require fewer treatment sessions than other forms of radiation because it delivers higher doses of radiation to the tumor. Our cancer management team evaluated every case individually and develops a treatment plan best suited for the patient. The ideal dosage and number of sessions are decided after thorough evaluation of the patients and their condition.
  • Potential for improved outcomes: Some studies have suggested that proton therapy may be associated with improved survival outcomes for certain types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

It is important to note that proton therapy is not a cure for pancreatic cancer, and it may not be suitable for all people with the disease. Our cancer management teams consider a variety of factors when determining the best treatment approach for the patient.

How Can Patients Prepare For Proton Therapy Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer?

If you are planning to undergo proton therapy for pancreatic cancer, here are some things you can do to prepare:

  • Understand the treatment process: Ask your oncologists and treatment team to explain the treatment process in detail, including how many sessions you will need and what you can expect during each session.
  • Discuss potential side effects: Ask about the potential side effects of proton therapy and how they can be managed.
  • Follow your treatment plan: Make sure to follow your treatment plan as directed. This may include taking medications as prescribed and attending all scheduled appointments.
  • Stay healthy: Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to help keep your body strong during treatment. Our nutrition team will guide you on food and exercise plans.
  • Ask for help: If you need help with transportation, childcare, or other tasks during treatment, don't be afraid to ask for assistance. We have resources available to help patients and their families during this time.
  • Talk to us about any concerns: If you have any questions or concerns about proton therapy or your treatment plan, don't hesitate to bring them up. We are here to support you and help you through the process.

Which Pancreatic Cancer Patients Benefit From Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy may be an option for some patients with pancreatic cancer, particularly those who have locally advanced disease that has not spread to distant sites in the body. Proton therapy may also be an option for patients who are not candidates for surgery or who have recurrent pancreatic cancer.

It is important to note that the decision to use proton therapy for pancreatic cancer, or any other type of cancer, is made on a case-by-case basis after a thorough evaluation by our team of cancer specialists. The team considers factors such as the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, the overall health of the patient, and the patient's treatment preferences. They will also consider the potential risks and benefits of proton therapy compared to other treatment options.

If you have pancreatic cancer and are considering proton therapy, it is important to speak with your cancer care team about the potential benefits and risks of this treatment and to get a thorough understanding of all of your treatment options.

Duration of proton therapy treatment in pancreatic cancer?

Depending on the nature of the cancer and the set treatment regimen, photon therapy sessions are held three to five days per week for an extended duration. During this, progress is noted, and changes are made to the treatment plan if required.

Typically, proton beam therapy for pancreatic cancer lasts only a few minutes. However, treatment preparation may take around 30 to 45 minutes before the session, making the process longer.

The duration of proton therapy treatment for pancreatic cancer can vary depending on a number of factors, including the stage and size of the cancer, the overall health of the patient, and the specific goals of treatment.

In general, proton therapy treatment for pancreatic cancer is given in daily sessions, 3 to 5 days a week, for a total of 4-6 weeks. Each treatment session typically lasts about 15-30 minutes. The total duration of treatment can be shorter or longer, depending on the specifics of the case.

It's important to note that proton therapy is just one treatment option for pancreatic cancer. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, may be used in combination with proton therapy or as standalone treatments. The appropriate treatment plan for a particular patient will depend on a variety of factors, including the stage and characteristics of the cancer, the overall health of the patient, and the goals of treatment. Bottom of Form

How Much Does Proton Therapy Cost For Pancreatic Cancers In India?

The price of proton therapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer may vary depending on the patient's condition and treatment regimen. However, the price of proton therapy is approximately 30% less compared to other nations. The easy accessibility and affordability make proton therapy one of the ideal cancer treatments.

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

While pancreatic cancer has a relatively low incidence in India, it ranks 18th in mortality, making it a deadly disease. Risk factors are divided into the following categories.

Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Chronic pancreatitis

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Age - Increased incidence with advancing age, especially between 65 to 75 years
  • Gender - Males are twice as likely to develop pancreatic carcinomas, predominantly due to increased tobacco usage
  • Family History - Genetic predisposition as pancreatic cancer can be hereditary among some families

Moreover, it is preferred among older patients who may show an increased risk of radiation toxicity or be unable to handle chemotherapy.






Dr. Sudeepta Kumar Swain

Senior Consultant - Surgical Gastroenterology ,Apollo Proton Cancer Centre, Chennai









Dr. Aditya Shah







Consultant Medical Oncology

Dr. Mukta Mahajan






FAQs Related To Pancreatic Cancer And Proton Therapy

Here are some common questions and answers about pancreatic cancer and proton therapy:

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that affects the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach that produces hormones and enzymes that help with digestion. Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, as it often does not cause symptoms until it has progressed.

Some common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and weakness.

Some factors that may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer include smoking, a family history of the disease, age (pancreatic cancer is more common in people over the age of 60), and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.

Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses protons, rather than x-rays, to deliver a high dose of radiation to a specific area of the body. Proton therapy can be an effective treatment option for various types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer.

Proton therapy may be used to treat pancreatic cancer in a number of ways, depending on the specifics of the case. It may be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Proton therapy is typically given in daily sessions, 5 days a week, for a total of 4-6 weeks. Each treatment session typically lasts about 15-30 minutes.

There is currently no consensus on whether proton therapy is more effective than traditional radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer. Some studies have suggested that proton therapy may be more effective, while others have not shown a significant difference between the two approaches. More research is needed to determine the relative effectiveness of proton therapy and traditional radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer.

The average survival time post-diagnosis for pancreatic cancer is 3 to 3.5 years. In cases of an early diagnosis, 10% of patients become disease-free post-treatment.

Proton therapy treats cancer and some noncancerous tumours, often alongside surgical options or chemotherapy.

Smoking is one of the main risk factors for pancreatic cancers. The incidence of this disease is twice as likely among smokers compared to non-smokers.

Pancreatic cancer has a high fatality rate of around 95% since it remains undiagnosed in its early, treatable stages.