Pancreatic Cancer – Our Treatment Options

Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

Because the pancreas is located deep inside the body and there are no regular physical exams available for it, pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose at an early stage. Physicians do not recommend regular screenings for pancreatic cancer for everyone because there is no screening test that is proven to lower the risk of dying from this type of cancer.

When caught early, surgery is often a successful treatment for pancreatic cancer. However, people usually do not acquire symptoms of pancreatic cancer until it has spread to other parts of the body, making surgery impossible. Survival rates are therefore low, from 14 percent for Stage 1a to one percent for Stage IV.

But at Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center, we always offer hope. Using our myriad of the latest and most effective cancer treatment options, our cancer experts will work with your medical team to develop a plan that is best for your particular situation.

Your physician should consider your medical history when determining the risk for pancreatic cancer. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, if you have two or more first-degree relatives who have had pancreatic cancer, a first-degree relative who developed pancreatic cancer before the age of 50, or an inherited genetic syndrome associated with pancreatic cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  

If you are determined to be at high risk for pancreatic cancer, your physician could order screenings that may include:

  • Blood Tests
  • Biopsy
  • Abdominal or Endoscopic Ultrasound
  • PET Bone Scan
  • CT Scan
    • MRI Scan


  • Cholangiopancreatography

Types Of Radiation Therapy For Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation therapy can be helpful in treating some exocrine pancreatic cancers (the most common type of pancreatic cancer). Orange County CyberKnife is the premier cancer treatment center for radiation therapy, offering a variety of options. It can be used as a primary treatment option, or in conjunction with other treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy.

When it comes to treating your pancreatic cancer with radiation therapy, Orange County Cyberknife and Radiation Oncology Center is your expert choice. Radiation options for pancreatic cancer treatment include:

  • CyberKnife (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, or SBRT) Orange County Cyberknife was one of the first cancer treatment centers to offer this advanced radiation therapy. Instead of surgery, the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System beams high doses of radiation directly to your pancreatic tumor while you rest on an outpatient treatment center table. It is the most recommended type of dedicated stereotactic radiosurgery treatment. The flexible, robotic arm of CyberKnife can deliver this radiation anywhere, even in hard-to-find spots in the pancreatic. This minimizes the radiation exposure to healthy surrounding tissue and organs and limits some of the short and long-term side effects common with conventional treatments. Unlike other methods of radiation delivery, CyberKnife is made to move with your body and the tumor, tracking the smallest of movements and adjusting the beams of high-dose radiation directly to the cancerous cells using sophisticated software and continuous x-rays. Essentially, CyberKnife follows your tumor even as you breathe. Much shorter than traditional radiation treatment, CyberKnife treatment is administered in one to five days.
  • Traditional External Beam Radiation Therapies
    • Advanced Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) – Orange County Cyberknife and Radiation Oncology Center houses the most advanced equipment including the IGRT which can track and capture your tumor using high-resolution, three-dimensional images as it moves or adjusts from day-to-day.  This treatment option pinpoints exactly where your tumor is so that you can focus the treatment on only that area, leaving the rest of the surrounding tissue unharmed. With IGRT, innovative radiographic, fluoroscopic and cone-beam CT modes are combined with software that automatically repositions the radiation beam and adjusts as you move. This enables clinicians to verify that treatments are completely in sync with respiration. Your initial CT scan can be updated using IGRT each time your visit to ensure your treatment is focused.
    • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)-  This versatile radiation treatment is used to treat nearly every type of solid tumor. With IMRT, our Orange County radiology oncologists program the IMRT to ‘paint’ radiation doses onto the tumor with pinpoint precision. Using 3-D scans of your body, the system beams radiation to the tumor from many different angles. At each angle, the dose or intensity of the radiation can be different, and the shape of the beam can be adjusted, based your treatment needs, shape of tumor, and surrounding structures. These adjustments enable the prescribed amount of radiation to be delivered to each part of the tumor, while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
    • RapidArc Radiotherapy Technology or Volumetric Arc Therapy (VMAT) – RapidArc is a form of IMRT that delivers treatments two to eight times faster than our other dynamic treatments and it increases precision. Unlike traditional IMRT that requires multiple rotations around the patient or makes repeated stops and starts to treat the tumor from different angles, this volumetric arc therapy delivers precise 3-D doses with a single 360° rotation of the machine, typically in less than two minutes. It uses your treatment planning algorithm to simultaneously change the rotation speed, the shape of the treatment aperture, and the delivery dose rate. The shape and position of the tumor are determined from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic studies. This permits improved dose sculpturing over 3-D conformal radiation therapy.


  • 3D Conformal – This type of radiotherapy uses 3D images to plan treatment and to deliver a dose of radiation that projects at the best angles for your tumor, avoiding surrounding healthy structures. Usually CT and/or MRI images are used for mapping out the radiation plan. Higher doses of radiation can be sent to cancer cells while much lower doses are received by the healthy tissue. This technology has allowed great improvements in safely treating head and neck tumors to minimize exposure to the spine, eyes, and other important structures.
  • Internal Radiation Therapies
    • Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy (LDR) – This radiation therapy is similar to its HDR counterpart, except it differs in its treatment delivery and length of treatment. With LDR Brachytherapy, 50 to 100 radioactive ‘seeds’ are implanted permanently into the cancerous tissue and radiation is then delivered to the infected area slowly over the following month or so as the cancerous cells die. Once the seeds emit the radiation, they, too, fade away. To effectively and safely place the seeds, Orange County CyberKnife’s radiology oncologists use a special planning system which uses transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) images to help design and monitor the intended placement of seeds. This one-time treatment may be used to treat a variety of cancers, including cervical, esophageal, head and neck and lung, but it is most often used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Call For Your First Consultation Today!

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, please don’t delay your phone call to Orange County CyberKnife. Our Southern California office houses the most comprehensive array of advanced non-surgical and non-invasive radiation cancer treatments in the state. Our team of cancer experts will explain all of your treatment options and work with your doctors to develop the most effective treatment plan possible for your particular situation. Read what other patients say about our cancer care. Call us today at (714) 962-7100 to schedule your appointment.

Use these links to find out more about pancreatic cancer: