The effects of radiotherapy on pancreatic cancer:

Exocrine pancreatic cancers can be treated with radiotherapy. The technique involves destroying cancer cells with high-energy X-rays. This slows and controls the proliferation of malignant cells, making it a viable therapy option for those with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Radiotherapy is used to help manage pain and other symptoms in advanced pancreatic cancer stages, such as stage III or stage IV.

Types of radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer

Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) is a type of radiation therapy that uses images to guide the treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is generally treated with image guided radiation (IGRT).

3D conformal radiotherapy

3D conformal radiotherapy involves tailoring the radiation beam to the cancer in three dimensions. The goal is to give malignant cells a larger dose while giving normal cells a lower dose.

IMRT (intensity modulated radiotherapy)

IMRT (intensity modulated radiotherapy) is a type of radiation therapy that focuses the radiation beam very tightly on the malignancy. A minimum of five radiation beams are set at various angles to ensure that the tumour receives the majority of the radiation.

VMAT (volumetric modulated arc radiation) or rapidarc

VMAT (volumetric modulated arc radiotherapy) is a form of IMRT. The radiation is targeted on the malignancy, which shortens the treatment time. A single beam of radiation is usually used.


Chemoradiotherapy refers to the use of chemotherapy in conjunction with radiation therapy. Chemoradiotherapy can be used to diagnose and raise the odds of removing cancer cells in people who have borderline resectable pancreatic cancer.

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR):

This is a more recent type of radiation for pancreatic cancer. This method entails the administration of a high dose of radiation. Because the dose is larger, this treatment requires fewer sessions. Because of the higher strength of radiation, this treatment may appear to be more comfortable and easier due to the fewer sessions, but it has a lot more adverse effects than other types of radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy side effects include:

  • Fatigue: Fatigue is a side effect of severe radiation exposure. This can also linger for several weeks after treatment.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: When the pancreas is exposed to radiation, the surrounding organs such as the stomach and intestines are also impacted. This might cause digestive problems, resulting in vomiting and making the patient weak.
  • Diarrhea: The radiotherapy will also have an effect on the bowels. Lower abdominal discomfort and watery stools are possible side effects.
  • Problems with eating and drinking: Following radiotherapy, patients frequently experience heartburn and indigestion, limiting their ability to eat a wide variety of foods.
  • Skin reactions: Radiation causes peeling, itching, and blistering of the skin. When radiation is applied to the pancreas, this is uncommon, although it can linger for several weeks after the therapy is ended.
  • Weight loss: Weight loss can occur as a result of improper dietary intake.
  • Swelling and soreness: The area where the radiation is delivered is frequently uncomfortable and swollen. This is a frequent adverse effect that might linger for several days after therapy.
  • Abnormalities in blood cell count: A high dose of radiation can cause a drop in the body's blood cell count.
  • Anemia: Anemia is a condition in which the body's red blood cells are insufficient, resulting in severe weakness.
  • Infections: Patients with a low white blood cell count are more susceptible to infections.
  • Bleeding: Lower platelet counts after radiation make blood clotting harder.
  • Renal failure: Radiation to the pancreas can have an adverse effect on the kidneys, resulting in renal failure. Renal failure is the inability of the kidneys to filter waste. In addition, the urine bladder is damaged.
  • Heart problems: When the pancreas is exposed to radiation, alterations in blood pressure and heart rhythm are prevalent. These are long-term negative effects that can eventually lead to heart attacks.
  • Hair loss: Radiation can cause severe hair loss in any part of the body.

Dosage and Survival Rate:

In the treatment of pancreatic cancer, the survival rate after radiation therapy is low. Radiation therapy has a very low resistance rate in pancreatic tumours. They can simply be dealt with by focusing on the tumours and assisting in their reduction in size. According to a 2017 study, patients who received less than 45 Gy radiation had a survival rate of 13 months, whereas those who received 45-50 Gy radiation had a survival rate of 21 months. Patients who received the most radiation, those over 55, had a 28-month survival rate. As a result, a larger radiation dose improves the treatment's effectiveness.