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 pain can often be relieved with medicines or, sometimes, with surgery or other treatments. Tell your doctor or nurse about any pain you have.

Pain medicines

For most patients, treatment with strong medicines can help control the pain. Pain is easier to treat if the treatment is started when you first have it. You should not be afraid to use the pain medicines offered. Pain medicines work best when they are 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.

Other treatments

There are other ways to relieve pain from pancreatic cancer, such as with endoscopy or surgery. For instance, cutting some of the nerves that carry pain sensations or injecting alcohol into these nerves can often provide relief. If you are having surgery for some reason, these nerves can often be cut or treated during the same operation. Or it can be done either by passing a needle through the skin or by using an endoscope (a long, flexible tube that is passed down the mouth and past the stomach).

Chemotherapy and/or radiation to the pancreas can also sometimes relieve pain by shrinking the size of the cancer.

For more information on pain and what can be done about it, see the “Cancer-related Pain” section of our website, or our document Guide to Controlling Cancer Pain.


Last Medical Review: 08/01/2014
Last Revised: 08/01/2014