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Cancer of the Pancreas

  • Posted: 07/14/2010

Supportive Care

Pain Control
Blockage
Sadness and Other Feelings

Cancer of the pancreas and its treatment can lead to other health problems. You can have supportive care before, during, and after cancer treatment.

Supportive care is treatment to control pain and other symptoms, to relieve the side effects of therapy, and to help you cope with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring. You may receive supportive care to prevent or control these problems and to improve your comfort and quality of life during treatment.

Go to NCI’s Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/coping or contact NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237) or LiveHelp for information about supportive care.

Pain Control

Cancer of the pancreas and its treatment may lead to pain. Your doctor or a specialist in pain control can suggest ways to relieve or reduce pain. You may want to ask if your hospital has a palliative care team.

There are many ways to relieve or reduce pain:

  • Pain medicine: Your health care team can suggest medicines that will relieve pain. If you have constipation or other side effects from the medicine, your health care team will help you manage the problems.
  • Nerve block: The doctor may inject alcohol into the area around certain nerves in the abdomen to block the pain.
  • Other methods: You may find that massage or acupuncture helps relieve pain. Also, you may learn other methods, such as hypnosis, relaxation, music therapy, imagery, and biofeedback.

More information about pain control can be found in the NCI booklet Pain Control.

Blockage

If the tumor in the pancreas grows large enough to squeeze the common bile duct or block the duodenum, your health care team can suggest ways to help:

  • Surgery: The surgeon can create a bypass through the blocked bile duct or duodenum. A bypass allows fluids to flow through the digestive tract. It can help relieve jaundice and pain resulting from the blockage.
  • Stent: The doctor uses an endoscope to place a stent in the blocked area. A stent is a tiny plastic or metal mesh tube that helps keep the duct or duodenum open.

Sadness and Other Feelings

It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or confused after a diagnosis of a serious illness. Some people find it helpful to talk about their feelings. See the Sources of Support section.