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Medicines for symptoms

Information about medicines to help relieve symptoms of advanced pancreatic cancer. 

Treatment for a blocked bowel

Advanced pancreatic cancer sometimes causes a blockage in the bowel. This is called bowel obstruction. 

Medicines can help to relieve the symptoms of a blocked bowel. These include:

  • somatostatin
  • octreotide

They work 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 bloating.

You might have somatostatin with steroids for advanced pancreatic cancer. The steroids help to reduce swelling that is making the blockage worse. 

The medicines might relieve symptoms at first, but the symptoms might come back.

If medicines don't help to relieve your symptoms, or if they come back, you might have a tube (stent) put in to keep the small bowel open. You might also have an operation to bypass the blockage.

Medicines to control pain

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

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 normally makes insulin and enzymes which help you to digest your food.

If the pancreas isn't working properly then you won't be able to absorb food properly. You might have steroids to help increase your appetite.

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 counselling or from having anti depressants. Speak to your doctor or specialist nurse about what might help you.

Chemotherapy

You might have chemotherapy to try to shrink and control the cancer, and to relieve symptoms such as pain. It may also help you to live longer.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.