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Pain and pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatic cancer can cause pain, and many people with pancreatic cancer have pain at some stage. But it’s important to remember that not everyone will get pain. Pain can be treated, and asking for help early on will help you manage it.

Pain is often a sign of damage to your body – it’s your body’s way of telling you that things aren’t right. People sometimes think of pain as something they only feel in their body. But your emotions, your relationships with people and your spiritual beliefs can all affect how you feel and react to pain. For example, you may have less pain at times when you feel confident about dealing with your pain.

Your GP, oncology team, surgical team, or hospital or community palliative care team can help you manage your pain.

People with pancreatic cancer may get different types of pain, which may each need a different treatment. Some people find it difficult to describe their pain, but there are tools that can help. You might also find it useful to keep a diary of your pain.

There are ways to manage pain, so tell your doctor or nurse about any pain as soon as possible. The earlier you get treatment, the better the chance of getting the pain under control.

Treatments for pancreatic cancer pain include painkillers, other drugs , nerve blocks which stop nerves sending pain messages to the brain, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Some people also find complementary therapies help. You can use this table to record your pain medicine.

If you get any new pain or your pain gets worse, you may worry that this means the cancer is growing. But this isn’t always the case. Talk to your doctor or nurse – they can explain what your pain means and how to manage it.

There is support available to help you deal with pain, as well as things you can do yourself. Getting help early on can help you feel more in control of your pain. Don’t try to cope alone. Speak to your medical team, or ask a family member or friend to speak to them for you.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions or concerns about your pain.

Download our booklet below to find out more about pain and pancreatic cancer. You can also order hard copies of our publications on our publications order form.

Questions to ask

  • What is causing my pain?
  • What type of pain do I have?
  • How can my pain be managed?
  • Who can help with managing my pain?
  • Who should I contact for help at night or the weekend?
  • What should I do if the pain doesn’t get better?
  • What can I do myself to help with pain?
  • Where can I get support to help me cope?

What causes pancreatic cancer pain?

Types of pancreatic cancer pain

Talking about pain

Ways of managing pancreatic cancer pain

Painkillers for pancreatic cancer

Opioid painkillers

Other types of pain relief

Coping with pain

Read more in our Pain and pancreatic cancer booklet

Published October 2016

To be reviewed October 2018

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