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Coping with pancreatic cancer pain

There is support available to help you cope with pancreatic cancer and pain. There are also some things you can do yourself.

Getting help for pain early on can help you to cope better. Pain can affect your mood. For example, you may feel worried about being in pain, have trouble eating or sleeping, or find it hard to concentrate on other things.

The amount of pain you have may not be linked to how advanced your cancer is and doesn’t always mean that the cancer is growing. It’s really important to tell your doctor or nurse about any changes to your pain, so that they can make sure you have the right dose of pain relief.

Your doctor or nurse should regularly check the emotional impact of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, including pain, during your care. They should offer you information and support to help you cope with pancreatic cancer.

If you are struggling at all with pain or with coping with pancreatic cancer, speak to your doctor or nurse. They can answer your questions, find ways to manage the pain and help you deal with it. Don’t stop taking your pain relief or change your dose without speaking to your medical team first.

How can I help myself?

There are things you can do at home to distract yourself from pain or help you feel more able to deal with it. For example, you could try a hobby, reading a book, watching television or listening to music. And you could try some complementary therapies.

“My husband had upper abdominal pain, radiating to his back. The only relief from the pain was having a hot bath.” 

Talking about it

Talking about your cancer, the pain, and how you are feeling can help you cope. Family and friends can be a fantastic support. It might help to talk to them about ways that they can help you.

You can also talk to your doctor or nurse. You should have a main contact, who will often be a nurse. They can provide emotional support as well as medical care.

Having cancer can make some people think more about their spiritual and religious beliefs. You may find it helps to speak to a religious or spiritual leader.

Read more about coping with pancreatic cancer.  You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line. They have time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions.

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse

  • What can I do myself to help with pain?
  • Where can I get support to help me cope?
  • Is there any local support I can get?
  • Would counselling be helpful?
  • Is there anyone I can speak to about my beliefs, such as a spiritual leader?

More information on pain and pancreatic cancer

Who can help you to deal with pain?

What causes pain?

Different types of pain

Talking about your pain

Painkillers

Common questions about painkillers

Nerve blocks

Other types of pain relief

Updated February 2019

To be reviewed February 2021

Information Standard