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Pancreatic Cancer, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Pancreatic cancer

starts in the pancreas. The pancreas is located just behind the stomach. It helps digest food by making enzymes. The pancreas also makes hormones, such as insulin, to help balance blood sugar levels.


Common symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal or low back pain
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Dark urine or light-colored bowel movements
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Warm, tender, swollen, red and painful arm or leg
  • Suddenly feeling lightheaded and short of breath
  • Coughing up blood

Treatment for pancreatic cancer

may include any of the following:

  • Surgery is done to remove part or all of your pancreas and lymph nodes near your pancreas. It is most often done for tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body. The kind of surgery you need will depend on the size and location of the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy is medicine that kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink the tumor before surgery.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading. It also used to reduce symptoms, such as pain.

Manage your pancreatic cancer:

  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day. You may not feel hungry, but it is important that you eat. Proper nutrition can give you more energy, maintain your weight, and help you feel better. A dietitian can help you find ways to get enough protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals. Ask if you need to take a pancreatic enzyme supplement with meals to help with digestion.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You will also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise may increase your energy level and appetite. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need and which exercises are best for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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