Login to Pancreatic Cancer UK

Talking about pancreatic cancer pain

It’s important that you speak to your GP or medical team as early as possible about any pain, including new pain or pain that’s got worse. Don’t try to cope with it yourself. The earlier you get treatment, the better the chance of getting the pain under control.

If your pain is very bad at night or at the weekend, contact the emergency number your medical team should have given you. If you don’t have a number, ask them about it.

Describing pain

There are some tools that can help you describe your pain, such as pain scales and diaries.

Your medical team will examine you, and may ask how the pain is affecting the following things.

  • Your body – where is the pain, does it spread, what brings it on and how does it feel?
  • Your daily life – does it get in the way of everyday activities, can you rest and sleep?
  • Your emotions – how does it affect your mood and how you feel?
  • Your relationships – how does it affect your relationships with your family and friends?
  • Your sex life – how does it affect the way you feel about your body and your relationship with your partner, if you have one?
  • Your spiritual feelings – how do you feel about yourself, your beliefs and about your future?

Pain scales

Your medical team may ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is no pain, and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine. This will help you and your doctor or nurse keep track of changes in your pain and how well treatment is working.

Pain diaries

Keeping a diary can help you remember details of your pain and describe it to your doctor or nurse. Take your diary with you to medical appointments. Think about the following things.

  • Where is the pain?
  • How many areas of pain do you have?
  • How bad is the pain on a scale from 0 to 10?
  • Does the pain spread to other areas of your body?
  • When do you get pain?
  • How long does the pain last?
  • Does anything make the pain better or worse?
  • What do you think is causing the pain?
  • What pain relief have you had?
  • Has the pain relief helped with the pain, partly helped or not helped at all?
  • Have you had any side effects from the pain relief?
  • How do you feel about your pain and the pain relief you’ve had?

Your medical team may give you a diary, or Macmillan Cancer Support have a pain diary.

Speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line if you have any questions about how to describe your pain.

Questions to ask

  • Who should I contact for help at night or the weekend?
  • Do you have a pain diary I can use?
  • Can you recommend any mobile phone apps for keeping a record of pain?


Published October 2016

To be reviewed October 2018

Information Standard