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What causes pancreatic cancer pain?

Several things can cause pain for people with pancreatic cancer:

The cancer

Pancreatic cancer can affect the nerves or organs near the pancreas, and cause pain in the tummy area (abdomen) or the back. Cancer that has spread can also cause pain.

Problems with digestion

Pancreatic cancer can cause problems digesting food, which can cause tummy discomfort or pain, and bloating. Pancreatic enzyme supplements can manage problems digesting food, and can help with symptoms including discomfort and pain.

Cancer treatment

Surgery can cause some pain and discomfort for a few weeks after your operation. You should be given painkillers for this. Chemotherapy can cause some pain and discomfort, including a sore mouth, joint and muscle pain, and tummy bloating. But there are ways to manage these side effects. Surgery and chemotherapy can also help manage pain by treating the cancer.


Constipation is problems opening your bowels. It can cause discomfort or pain. Opioid painkillers, which treat moderate to severe pain, can cause constipation.

Emotions and beliefs

Many things can affect the way you feel pain, including stress and worry, and how you feel about dealing with pain.

If you have any questions about what is causing your pain, speak to your doctor or nurse.

Questions to ask

  • What is causing my pain?
  • How can my pain be managed?
  • Who can help with managing my pain?


Published October 2016

To be reviewed October 2018

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