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Drugs for pancreatic cancer symptoms

Men and women discussing pancreatic cancer

This page is about drug treatment to control the symptoms of cancer of the pancreas. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Treatment to relieve the symptoms of a blocked bowel

It may be possible to use a drug called somatostatin (Octreotide) to help control symptoms of a blocked bowel instead of having an operation. Somatostatin is a hormone that is made naturally in the body. It can now be made artificially. It works by reducing the amount of fluid that builds up in your stomach and digestive system. This helps to stop you being sick and can relieve the bloating you feel.

Somatostatin is often used with steroids. These help to reduce swelling that is making the blockage worse. Unfortunately this type of treatment is only a temporary measure and the blockage will almost certainly return.

Other drug treatment

People with advanced cancer are very likely to lose a lot of weight. Steroids may help to increase your appetite.

Let your doctor or nurse know if you have pain. They can make sure that you get the drugs that work best to control your particular type of pain.

Your doctors may suggest you have chemotherapy to try to shrink and control the cancer.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating pancreatic cancer section.

 

Treatment to relieve the symptoms of a blocked bowel

Sometimes it is possible to use a drug called somatostatin or Octreotide to help control the symptoms of a blocked bowel instead of an operation. Somatostatin is a hormone that is made naturally in the body. It can now be made artificially. It works by reducing the amount of fluid that builds up in your stomach and digestive system. This helps to stop you being sick and can relieve the bloating you feel.

Somatostatin is often used with steroids. These help to reduce swelling that is making the blockage worse. Unfortunately this type of treatment is only a temporary measure and the blockage will almost certainly return.

If drug treatment does not help to relieve your symptoms, or if they come back, then you may have a tube (stent) put in to keep the small bowel open or you may have an operation to bypass the blockage. There is more information about ways to relieve a blocked bowel in this section.

 

Drugs to control pain

You must let your doctor or nurse know if you have pain. They can make sure that you get the drugs that work best to control your particular type of pain. There is a separate page in this section on pain control in pancreatic cancer.

 

Treating weight loss

People with advanced cancer are very likely to lose a lot of weight. We don't fully understand the reasons for this, but the pancreas does normally make insulin and enzymes which help you to digest your food, so if it isn't working properly then you won't be able to absorb food normally either. This can be very upsetting for patients and their families. You might be given steroids to help increase your appetite. There is advice on how you can adapt your diet if you have pancreatic cancer in the living with pancreatic cancer section.

 

Dealing with mood changes

It is common for people with advanced pancreatic cancer to become depressed. It may be helpful to understand this as a part of your illness. You could benefit from starting anti depressants early on in your treatment.

There is more advice on how to deal with your feelings in the cancer symptoms and side effects section.

 

Chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer

Chemotherapy can be given to try to shrink and control the cancer. There is more information about chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer in this section.

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Updated: 18 December 2012