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Who can help manage pancreatic cancer pain?

The doctors and nurses who can help you manage pancreatic cancer pain may include your:

  • GP
  • district nurse
  • palliative care nurse or Macmillan nurse
  • or your hospital team.

Macmillan nurses work in hospitals and the community. They specialise in caring for and supporting people with cancer. Your hospital team may include a specialist nurse and an oncologist (cancer doctor).

If your cancer can’t be removed by surgery, you may also be referred to other services, such as a specialist palliative care team, a supportive care team or a hospice. Seeing these services early on can make it easier to deal with your pain.

If you get any new pain or your pain gets worse, you may be worried that this means the cancer is growing. But this isn’t always the case. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your worries. They can help you understand why you have pain, and help you deal with it. The sooner you get treatment for your pain, the better chance of getting it under control.

Your hospital team should give you an emergency number to contact if your pain suddenly changes and gets very bad at night or at the weekend. If you haven’t been given a number, ask them about it. There will also be a number for the out of hours doctor on your GP’s answer phone message.

What are palliative care and supportive care?

Palliative care teams help people who have cancer that can’t be cured to live as well as possible for as long as possible. Supportive care teams provide similar services and are available in some hospitals. The service you are referred to may vary, depending on what is available in your area.

These services aren’t just for people at the end of their life. Palliative care and supportive care teams are available at any point during your treatment or care. They provide specialist care which aims to prevent and manage complex symptoms, including pain and emotional symptoms, such as depression and anxiety. They also provide people with practical and spiritual support, and provide support to family members. 

Where can I receive this care?

Your GP or district nurse will provide some palliative care, and will arrange support from the specialist palliative care team if you need this. There are specialist palliative care teams based in the community who may be able to visit you at home. Sometimes these teams may be based at a local hospice.

Different hospices provide different services, but these may include:

  • inpatient care, where you stay at the hospice for a short time – for example, to get your pain under control
  • outpatient care, where you go to the hospice for an appointment and then go home after treatment
  • ‘hospice at home’ services, which provide nursing care at home – this service is usually available at night.

Not all services may be available everywhere. If you need more support speak to your GP. You can also call our specialist nurses on our free Support Line, who can explain how to access support.

Palliative care can also be provided in hospitals by hospital-based palliative care teams.

Some hospitals offer supportive care. Supportive care is similar to palliative care. It aims to see people at a very early stage in their cancer treatment to manage their symptoms. In some areas, supportive care teams can also provide this care to people who have finished their treatment, but are still dealing with symptoms such as pain.

You may also be offered care through a pain clinic. Pain clinics offer specialist pain management and support. Your doctor or nurse may work with a pain clinic at the hospital, or you may be referred to a pain clinic in your local area.

If you haven’t already been referred to a specialist palliative care team or supportive care team, speak to your doctor or nurse about being referred.

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse

  • Who can help manage my pain?
  • Would it help for me to see a specialist palliative care team?
  • Who should I contact for help at night or at the weekend?

More information on pain and pancreatic cancer

Read more about nursing support in your local area.

What causes pain?

Different types of pain

Talking about your pain

Painkillers

Nerve blocks 

Other types of pain relief 

Things you can do yourself to deal with pain

Support to help you deal with pain

Updated February 2019

To be reviewed February 2021

Information Standard