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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.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You cough up blood.
Call your doctor if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your pain does not get better, even after you take pain medicine.
- Your abdomen is larger than usual.
- You have new or worsening nausea or are vomiting.
- You have diarrhea, light-colored or oily, foul-smelling bowel movements.
- You have new or worsening weight loss, jaundice, or back pain.
- You feel depressed, anxious, or unable to cope with your condition.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Pancreatic enzymes help your body digest protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your food.
- Insulin is given to help balance blood sugar levels.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- 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. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to prevent dehydration. This is especially true if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can make it difficult to manage your symptoms or side effects of treatment. Ask your oncologist before you drink alcohol. Also ask how much is okay for you to drink in 1 day or 1 week.
- 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 oncologist as directed:
You will need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
For more information and support:
- American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street
Atlanta , GA 30303
Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
Web Address: http://www.cancer.org
- National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
Web Address: http://www.cancer.gov
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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.
Learn more about Pancreatic Cancer (Discharge Care)
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Symptoms and treatments
Mayo Clinic Reference
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