Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and paracetamol

NSAIDs and paracetamol can be used to treat pancreatic cancer pain. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen.

In this information, we use the general (generic) name of each drug, rather than the brand name.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include ibuprofen and naproxen. They can help with some types of pain, such as tummy pain or bone pain. Paracetamol can also help with pancreatic cancer pain, even if the pain is bad.

Paracetamol and NSAIDs can be taken with opioid painkillers or with other types of pain relief.

NSAIDs can cause side effects which include stomach problems and runny poo (diarrhoea), so you should take them after food. There is also a risk that they could cause stomach ulcers. Your doctor or nurse may give you medicine to prevent stomach ulcers if they think you are at high risk.

Medicines you buy, like cold and flu medicines, often include paracetamol or NSAIDs. Always check with the pharmacist or your doctor before taking them so that you don’t take too much by mistake.

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“ Take painkillers as soon as you experience any pain. Don’t feel you have to suffer in silence or that it’s better not to take them. Dealing with pain quickly and effectively will improve the quality of your life.”

Chemotherapy and paracetamol or NSAIDs

Chemotherapy can increase your risk of an infection, which can be serious and needs urgent treatment. Paracetamol or NSAIDs can lower your temperature and hide signs of an infection.

If you are having chemotherapy, always check your temperature before taking paracetamol or NSAIDs. Call the chemotherapy emergency number if you have a high temperature, based on the advice of your chemotherapy team.

Questions about your pain relief?

Speak to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions about your painkillers.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

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Specialist nurse Rachel

Updated April 2022

To be reviewed April 2025