Pancreatic Cancer Overview

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Treating Pancreatic Cancer TOPICS

Pain control for pancreatic cancer

Pain can be a real problem for patients with this cancer. But it is possible to relieve the pain with medicines or, sometimes, with surgery. You should tell your doctor or nurse about any pain you have. Pain is easier to treat if the treatment is started when you first have it. Don’t wait until the pain is so bad that you can’t stand it. You should not be afraid to use the pain relief treatments offered. For pain treatment to work right, the medicine needs to be taken on a regular schedule, not just when the pain gets bad. There are long-acting forms of morphine and other drugs that only need to be taken once or twice a day.

There are other ways to relieve pain from pancreatic cancer. This can be done with a combination of medicines or in some cases, endoscopy or surgery. For instance, cutting some of the nerves that carry pain sensations or injecting alcohol into these nerves can provide relief. Often, if the cancer is being removed, these nerves will be cut or treated during the same operation. Chemotherapy and/or radiation to the pancreas can also sometimes relieve pain by shrinking the size of the cancer.

For more detailed information on pain and what can be done about it, see our document, Pain Control: A Guide for Those With Cancer and Their Loved Ones. A list of some other documents that can be helpful on this topic can be found in the “More information about pancreatic cancer” section.


Last Medical Review: 02/15/2013
Last Revised: 02/03/2014