Treating problems with digestion using pancreatic enzymes is also an important part of managing diabetes for people with pancreatic cancer.

You may hear that diabetes can be managed by changing what you eat. But it’s different with pancreatic cancer and type 3c diabetes. Your diabetes should be managed around your diet.

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.

Other tablets may be used to treat your diabetes. Speak to your diabetes team about how your tablets work and any side effects they may have. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions.

Insulin

You might need to take insulin 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. There are different types of insulin and ways to take it. Your diabetes team will talk to you about what is best for you.

Taking 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.

Your insulin dose will depend on several things, including your weight, how much you eat and your lifestyle. The dose may need to change over time, especially if your weight, appetite or activity level changes. It may take a few weeks to get the insulin dose right so that your blood sugar levels are within your target range most of the time. Your diabetes team will help you with this.

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

If you take insulin you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels a few times a day. Your diabetes nurse will also show you how to do this. If your blood sugar levels are not within your target range, tell 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.

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.

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 has 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
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“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 June 2023

Review date June 2026