Login to Pancreatic Cancer UK

Are there any symptoms that need urgent medical attention?

Some pancreatic cancer symptoms need to be treated straight away. These include:

If you, or the person you are caring for, has any of these symptoms or needs urgent help, call any emergency contact number you have been given by the hospital team, GP or community nurses. Or go to A&E, or call 999 for an ambulance.

Don’t worry about being a nuisance – these symptoms need to be treated as they are an emergency.

Infection during chemotherapy

White blood cells fight infection. Chemotherapy can lower the number of white blood cells in the blood, which can increase the risk of getting an infection. This is called neutropenic sepsis. An infection during chemotherapy is an emergency and needs treating straight away.

Signs of an infection include a high temperature, feeling shivery or cold, headaches and sore muscles, pain or burning when passing urine and generally feeling unwell. Read more about the signs of an infection and how an infection can be treated.

Stent infection

A stent may be put into the bile duct to treat jaundice, or the duodenum to treat sickness. There is a risk that the stent may get infected, which is normally caused by the stent getting blocked.

Signs of a stent infection include:

  • tummy pain
  • sore muscles
  • a high temperature, fever, shivering or feeling cold
  • being sick or loss of appetite
  • yellow eyes, dark urine, pale poo and itching (these are signs of jaundice).

If you have signs of an infection, you should go to A&E, or phone 999 for an ambulance. You will usually need antibiotics to treat the infection, and the stent can be replaced.

Persistent vomiting

Being sick a lot with no improvement (persistent vomiting) is a sign that something is wrong. If you have been vomiting for half a day or longer and can’t keep down any food or fluid, there’s a risk of dehydration.

You may need to go to hospital, where they will work out the cause of the vomiting. You may need to be given fluid through a drip into a vein to treat the dehydration. 

Blood clot in a vein

People with pancreatic cancer may be more at risk of a blood clot forming in a vein. Having surgery or chemotherapy can also increase the risk. A blood clot in a vein is serious, and needs treating straight away.

It often happens in the lower leg (calf), thigh, pelvis (area below your tummy button) or arm. This is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and can block the normal flow of blood through the veins. Part of a clot can also break off and travel in the blood to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism. This isn’t common, but it can be very serious.

Read more about blood clots and the symptoms.

Read more about feeling and being sick.

Find out more about managing other symptoms and side effects, such as pain, extreme tiredness or changes to your bowel habits.

Updated September 2019

Review date September 2021

Pif Proud To Be A Member Logo