Managing pancreatic cancer pain
There are different ways to manage pain caused by pancreatic cancer, including:
- different types of painkillers called opioid and non-opioid painkillers
- other pain relieving drugs
- nerve blocks
- radiotherapy and chemotherapy
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- cognitive behavioural therapy
Some people also find that complementary therapies can help. You could also ask your doctor or nurse about clinical trials for cancer pain. Cancer Research UK have details of trials for pain in cancer.
Different types of pain relief work in different ways and have different side effects. Your pain relief will depend on what kind of pain you have and your overall health. Your medical team will help find the best treatment for you. It’s important that you follow their instructions when taking pain relief. For example, if you’re taking painkillers, you will need to take these regularly to control the pain.
Don’t stop taking your pain relief without speaking to your medical team. If you’re worried about side effects, speak to them.
Your medical team may work with a pain clinic to help manage your pain. They may refer you to a clinic if there is one available in your area.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care aims to improve the lives of people with an illness that can’t be cured. It provides support for people’s physical needs, such as dealing with pain or side effects. It also provides emotional, social and spiritual support, and supports families. Hospices provide palliative care, but there are also palliative care specialists in hospitals and the community. Hospices and palliative care are not just for people in the final stages of life.
What if my pain relief isn’t working?
Tell your medical team straight away if your pain gets worse or is not under control. Don’t wait to ask for help with pain.
Your medical team may increase the dose of your painkillers, change the way you take them or change the type of pain relief.
If your pain isn’t under control, it may help to have a palliative care review. Your medical team can refer you for this. It may include going into a hospital or a hospice for a short time to treat your pain and other symptoms. Once your pain is under control, you can go home again. Hospices also provide care in people’s homes.
If you haven’t already seen a palliative care or pain specialist, ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to one.
Published October 2016
To be reviewed October 2018