Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

What is Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer?

Locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) is a type of cancer of the pancreas where the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas and grown into nearby organs, such as the stomach, small intestine, gallbladder, and/or liver. LAPC can also spread to nearby lymph nodes. It is considered to be a more advanced form of pancreatic cancer, as opposed to the less advanced, localized form. Locally advanced pancreatic cancer carries a poorer prognosis than localized pancreatic cancer, as it is generally more difficult to treat.

Signs and Symptoms of Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

The symptoms of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) can be similar to those of localized pancreatic cancer or other digestive problems. Common signs and symptoms of LAPC include:

  • Abdominal pain, which can be worse after meals
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Itchy skin

Diagnosis of Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

To diagnose locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) a doctor will typically perform a physical exam and ask a patient questions about their medical history. If an abnormality in the pancreas is found during the physical exam, the doctor may order imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to look for a tumor. Endoscopic ultrasounds or biopsies of the tumor may be performed if necessary.

In addition to imaging tests, doctors may order blood tests to look for elevated levels of certain tumor markers. Elevated levels of tumor markers can indicate the presence of cancer. Finally, a doctor may discuss genetic testing for potential underlying genetic mutations that could have contributed to the development of LAPC.

Treatment of Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

The treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) can vary depending on the stage, size, location, and aggressiveness of the cancer. Common treatments for LAPC can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and/or clinical trials.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used to shrink the size of the tumor before surgery is performed, if necessary. During surgery, a surgeon can attempt to remove the entire tumor or a portion of the tumor if it is inoperable. In cases where the tumor is not able to be completely removed, chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be used to shrink the tumor prior to surgery.

Targeted therapy and immunotherapy can be used to treat LAPC in cases where the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. Targeted therapy involves using drugs to target specific genes or proteins found in the tumor, while immunotherapy stimulates the patient's immune system to fight the cancer cells. These treatments can be used in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Finally, clinical trials can be used to find new and effective treatments for LAPC. Clinical trials involve testing new drugs or approaches to treatment in a controlled environment. A doctor may discuss the option of enrolling in a clinical trial if other treatments have proved unsuccessful.

What is the Prognosis for Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer?

The prognosis for locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) can vary depending on several factors, such as the stage and size of the cancer, its aggressiveness, and how well the patient responds to treatment. Generally, the prognosis is poorer than for localized pancreatic cancer.

It is important for patients to discuss treatment options and prognosis with their healthcare team in order to make an informed decision about how to proceed with treatment.