If scans and tests no longer detect cancer in a patient’s body, their doctor may say the patient’s in “remission” or shows “no evidence of disease.”
While these signs suggest that the cancer is gone, there is always a chance that microscopic cancer cells remain in the body, even after successful treatment. These cells are not detectable or visible through imaging or other tests. If these cells do exist, the patient may experience a recurrence, or a return of the cancer. For this reason, being in remission does not mean that a patient is cured or cancer-free.
Remission is an important turning point in a patient’s treatment journey. It means that the patient has completed treatment and will start periodic follow-up appointments, exams and tests so the healthcare team can watch for any signs of the cancer returning or progressing. If it does return, treatment will start again. However, it is difficult to determine when, or even if a recurrence may occur.
Some pancreatic cancer patients reach remission. Others are able to stabilize their disease or reduce their tumors through treatment approaches like clinical trials, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or a combination of these methods.
Every pancreatic cancer patient is unique, and a treatment that works well for one person may not work as well for someone else. Certain factors – such as seeing a specialist and participating in clinical research – improve patient outcomes. And, molecular profiling may also help identify treatments that will work best based on a patient’s tumor’s biology.