Dr Lim on Multidisciplinary Approaches to Pancreatic Cancer Management

Kian-Huat Lim, MD, PhD, discusses the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration when diagnosing and treating patients with pancreatic cancer.

Kian-Huat Lim, MD, PhD, medical oncologist, associate professor, medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Siteman Cancer Center, the Washington University School of Medicine, discusses the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration when diagnosing and treating patients with pancreatic cancer.

For patients with unresectable pancreatic tumors, the treatment journey often begins with several months of chemotherapy, Lim begins. During this time, consulting with radiation oncologists is necessary to determine whether radiation therapy may control localized disease, he explains. However, only a small fraction of patients can tolerate this intense treatment for month on end due to chemotherapy-related toxicities. Lim says that patients may require a break from chemotherapy due to fatigue and the physical toll it takes on their bodies. In these circumstances, radiation therapy can be a valuable option for managing local disease and allowing patients to temporarily stop chemotherapy treatment, he notes.

In addition to radiation oncologists, oncologists will often collaborate with gastroenterologists, Lim expands. Patients with tumors located in the head or body of the pancreas often suffer from obstructive jaundice. To address this, gastroenterologists can perform a biliary stent placement to keep the bile ducts open. This ensures that the patients can continue receiving treatment without additional complications from jaundice, he elucidates.

As pancreatic cancer is a multifaceted disease with associated issues such as diabetes, it is crucial to have endocrinologists involved in the care team. Moreover, pain management is a significant concern for many patients. Pain specialists often play a vital role in addressing severe and chronic pain issues, Lim reports.

Lastly, psychological support is indispensable for both patients and their families, he continues. At Siteman Cancer Center, as well as other major cancer centers, psychologists and palliative care specialists are integral members of the care team. Providing comprehensive support options is essential to help patients and their families navigate this challenging journey, Lim concludes.

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