Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Radiation therapy offers hope for healing to people with pancreatic cancer whose tumors are too advanced to remove safely with surgery. It also eliminates trace levels of cancer cells that remain after other treatments. At the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, you have access to sophisticated options, like MRI-guided radiation therapy, that are only available in select programs nationwide.

You receive services from some of the world’s leading experts in pancreatic cancer radiation oncology. We deliver focused therapies that consistently halt cancer cell growth with less downtime and a quicker recovery. Many patients complete treatment in as few as six sessions and have minimal side effects.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

First-in-the-world MRI-guided radiation therapy

Henry Ford was the first program in the world to offer MRIdian® MRI-guided radiation therapy technology. It is one of the most significant breakthroughs in radiation oncology for upper abdominal cancers. This method provides greater precision than previously available by using real-time MRI imaging during radiation for pancreatic cancer.

Radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer at Henry Ford: Why choose us?

Our team includes one of the world’s most experienced pancreatic cancer radiation oncologists. This expertise means you receive the highest level of care. We pay attention to small details that can have a big impact on your results. Experts work with specially trained radiation therapy professionals to ensure you have a safe, comfortable experience.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Comprehensive care: Radiation therapy is one of many services that may be part of your personalized care plan. You may also be eligible for chemotherapy, which uses powerful drugs to destroy cancer cells. After these treatments, the tumor may be small enough to remove with surgery. Explore pancreatic cancer treatment.
  • Team approach: A comprehensive team of pancreas specialists gathers in meetings called tumor boards to coordinate your care. Radiation oncologists work alongside surgeons, medical oncologists and other experts. We discuss the therapies that are right for you and tailor them to your unique needs. Meet our team.
  • Safety: Our radiation oncology team holds itself to the highest standards. This commitment to care excellence has earned our program prestigious recognition (accreditation) from the American College of Radiology®. Accreditation is only awarded to programs such as ours that excel in using research-based care and safety practices.
  • Timely support: Radiation therapy often causes side effects like fatigue and diarrhea. Our OncoStat clinic provides prompt access to additional therapies, such as intravenous (IV) hydration, when necessary, to help you avoid complications. We offer same-day appointments on weekdays, so you don’t have to wait to feel better.

Radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer: What to expect

Treatment planning starts in tumor board meetings where the team reviews the unique characteristics of the tumor. This information helps us determine whether radiation therapy is right for your needs.

If you are eligible for MRI-guided radiation therapy, here’s what to expect:

  • Your first appointment is a planning session. You lay in the treatment machine and receive small tattoos to mark the treatment area. We create a mold of your abdomen that helps you stay in position. The team also takes time to answer your questions.
  • Therapy typically includes five radiation sessions. The MRI technology enables us to safely deliver a stronger dose in less time. Before each session, we confirm the tumor’s location using MRI and make necessary adjustments.
  • Specially trained radiation therapists guide you through each treatment. Therapists receive more training than most programs in the country, so you can feel confident you are receiving high-quality care.
  • During treatments, therapists ask you to hold your breath for brief periods. The MRI technology monitors the tumor, only delivering radiation when it is in the correct spot. You have the option of watching this process with the help of a special mirror.
  • You may receive radiation therapy five days in a row or every other day, depending on your needs. Treatments take approximately one hour, and you are free to go home after they are complete.
  • You will not feel the radiation during treatments, but it typically causes side effects a few days later. We give you anti-nausea medications to help you stay comfortable. You also have access to a broad range of supportive therapies. These include personalized nutrition recommendations, pain management and assistance from social workers.
Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167

Schedule Appointment Online

Please call 911 if you have an emergency or urgent medical question.

Already a Henry Ford patient?
For the best experience, existing Henry Ford patients can request and self-schedule appointments through Henry Ford MyChart.

Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email [email protected].

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