Treating problems with digestion using pancreatic enzymes is also an important part of managing diabetes if you have pancreatic cancer.

What you eat can affect your diabetes. If you have pancreatic cancer, your diabetes should be managed around your diet. Some people are able to manage their diabetes by reducing how much sugar they eat, but this is not usual for people with type 3c diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Tablets to treat diabetes 

Tablets commonly used to treat type 3c diabetes increase how much insulin your pancreas makes – for example, gliclazide and glimepiride.

Because these tablets make your pancreas produce more insulin, you may get hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) if the dose is too high. Read more about low blood sugar levels.

As with all medicines, these tablets can have side effects. Read the leaflets that come with your medicines, and discuss any concerns with your diabetes team.

Insulin

You might need insulin medicine to treat your diabetes. This replaces the insulin that your pancreas normally makes. If you have had your whole pancreas removed (total pancreatectomy), you will need to take insulin.

You should be referred to a diabetes nurse who will explain how to take the insulin and manage your diabetes. Sometimes this might be done by the practice nurse at your GP surgery. It is important that you call the diabetes nurse if you aren’t sure what to do or have any questions.

Treating type 3c diabetes with insulin can seem complicated. Your diabetes nurse will help you learn how to manage it. You may need a few appointments with them before you feel confident with this. If you are unsure about anything or have any questions, make sure you speak to your diabetes nurse.

Taking insulin 

There are different types of insulin medicine – your diabetes team will work out the best type for you.

Insulin is taken as an injection. The diabetes nurse will show you how to do this and use the insulin safely. If you need insulin but can’t inject it yourself and there isn’t someone else such as a relative who can do it, a district nurse may do this for you.

Your diabetes team will work out how much insulin you need. It may take a few weeks to get the dose right so that you are within your target range most of the time.

Your insulin dose will depend on several things, including your weight, how much you eat and your lifestyle. The dose will need changing over time, especially if your weight changes or if your appetite increases or decreases. Your diabetes nurse will explain this to you.

If you are taking steroids, your insulin dose may need to be changed, as steroids make your blood sugar level rise. If you are prescribed steroids at any point, make sure you speak to your diabetes team for advice about this.

If you are on insulin you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels a few times a day. Your diabetes nurse will show you how to do this. Read more about monitoring your blood sugar level.

If your blood sugar levels are not within your target range, call your diabetes nurse. They may suggest changing to a different type of insulin or a different dose. You may later learn to change the dose yourself.

Will the injection hurt? 

It’s normal to worry about having to inject yourself when you first use insulin. The needles used are very thin so it doesn’t usually hurt. But it can still take a little while to get used to it.

If you are worried about injecting yourself, speak to your diabetes nurse. They will show you the best way to inject the insulin, and will be able to suggest things to help you deal with any worries.

Diabetes UK have more information about injecting insulin and things that can help if you are worried about it.

Questions about your medicine?

Speak to your diabetes team if you have any questions about your diabetes medicine. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions.

Speak to our nurses

“My partner was stressed at the thought of having to have more injections. However, the daily injections very quickly became routine and he was able to do the blood sugar test and injection quickly and easily”

Updated April 2021

Review date April 2023