Palliative treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer

Palliative treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer helps to improve quality of life by easing symptoms of cancer when a cure may not be possible. It is particularly important for people with advanced cancer, but it can be used during different cancer stages.

Often treatment focuses on pain relief and stopping the spread of cancer, but it can also involve the management of other physical and emotional symptoms, such as depression. Treatment may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other medication.

If pancreatic cancer has spread and it is not possible to treat it with surgery, your doctor may recommend treatment to relieve problems such as:

  • jaundice – caused by narrowing of the bile duct
  • persistent vomiting and weight loss – caused by obstruction in the stomach or small bowel
  • poor digestion – caused by the blockage of the pancreatic duct, which stops the flow of the digestive enzymes required to break down food
  • pain – in the abdomen and middle back.

See After treatment for more on managing dietary issues that may be caused by pancreatic cancer and its treatment.

Listen to a podcast on Making Treatment Decisions

Video: What is palliative care?

Find out how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.

This information was last reviewed in February 2016.
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