Recovery after surgery for pancreatic cancer

After surgery, most people go home within a fortnight, but if you have complications, you may need to stay in hospital longer. Some of the common issues you may have to deal with after surgery for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Pain control – As with all major operations, you will be given pain relief. If you are in pain when you return home, talk to your medical team about prescribing pain medication.
  • Drips and tubes – When you are in hospital, you will have a drip (intravenous infusion) to replace your body’s fluids. At first you will not be able to eat or drink (nil by mouth). You will then be restricted to a liquid diet before gradually returning to normal food. A temporary feeding tube may be placed into the small bowel during the operation. This tube provides extra nutrition until your ability to eat and drink is fully restored.
  • Enzyme and insulin replacements – Some people will need to take tablets known as pancreatic enzymes after surgery. These are taken with each meal to help digest fat and protein. Learn more at Pancreatic enzyme replacement supplements.
  • Insulin therapy – A small number of people develop diabetes after surgery and may need insulin therapy. Learn more at tips on coping with diabetes .
For information on managing dietary issues that may be caused by pancreatic cancer and its treatment visit the After treatment section.

This information was last reviewed in February 2016.
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