Diabetes and pancreatic cancer
Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood. Diabetes, or high blood sugar levels, can occur if your pancreas is not making enough insulin. This is why some people develop diabetes shortly before pancreatic cancer is diagnosed (when the cancer is affecting how much insulin the pancreas can make) or soon after surgery (when some or all of the pancreas has been removed).
The way diabetes is managed varies from person to person but often includes both dietary changes and insulin injections. Sometimes medicines are given as tablets that you swallow.
Your GP can help you manage the condition, but you will usually be referred to an endocrinologist, a specialist in hormone disorders. You may also be referred to a dietitian for help with changing your diet.
Coping with diabetes
- Eat small meals and snacks regularly to help control blood sugar levels.
- Talk to your endocrinologist or GP about medicines to help control the diabetes.
- If you are taking diabetes medicine, include high-fibre carbohydrate foods at every meal to avoid low blood sugar levels. Wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables and fruit are all suitable foods.
- Talk to your doctors and dietitian for more information about diabetes.
- Get in touch with the National Diabetes Services Scheme on 1800 637 700. They can provide advice on managing diabetes and put you in touch with support programs near you.
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Dr Benjamin Loveday, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Palliative Medicine Physician, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Hollie Bevans, Senior Dietitian, Radiotherapy and Oncology, Western Health, VIC; Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Amanda Maxwell, Consumer; Prof Michael Michael, Medical Oncologist, Lower and Upper GI Oncology Service, Co-Chair Neuroendocrine Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne, VIC; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Meg Rogers, Nurse Consultant Upper GI/NET Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ady Sipthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
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