Pancreatic Cancer Radiation Oncology Therapy

Radiation oncology — or radiation therapy — is a common part of pancreatic cancer care for most people.

Radiation therapy uses externally applied x-rays to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. It's noninvasive and painless.

Radiation Treatment Options for Pancreatic Cancer at UPMC

Radiation oncologists at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center work with their colleagues in surgical and medical oncology to create your personal treatment plan. This includes the right form of radiation oncology at the right time.

Your care team often pairs radiation therapy with medical oncology. We refer to this combination of treatments as chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy.

Exocrine pancreatic cancers respond well to radiation therapy. Neuroendocrine (islet cell) pancreatic cancers do not.

However, at times, radiation oncology can help control pain in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that have spread to the bone.

When doctors don't think pancreatic cancer surgery is an option, radiation oncology can:

  • Help shrink the tumor.
  • Stop the cancer from spreading.
  • Also help manage pain.

Some people experience side effects from radiation oncology treatment. Chemo along with radiation can enhance side effects.

Your radiation oncologist and the rest of your pancreatic cancer treatment team will try to reduce your side effects.

Types of Radiation Oncology Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is a leader in using state-of-the-art technologies to treat pancreatic cancer. Our radiation oncology program's cutting-edge equipment and techniques help make sure you receive the best possible treatment.

External beam radiation therapy is a term for radiation therapy that uses high-energy x-rays (a linear accelerator machine) to treat tumors. Many radiation oncology treatments for pancreatic cancer rely on a form of this technology.

The team at the specialty Pancreatic Cancer Care and Treatment Program at UPMC includes experts in the following technologies:

Contact Us About Radiation for Pancreatic Cancer

To learn more about pancreatic cancer care, contact UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at