Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the most painful cancer types. It’s deep in the abdomen, and by the time it’s usually detected, becomes more advanced, making effective pain management difficult. It invades and compresses the nerves close to the pancreas, causing back or abdominal pain. Moreover, it spread quickly and affected the nerves nearby. An unexplained stomach ache could be an indicator of pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, early detection of pancreatic cancer is difficult and the disease has a low survival rate.

The degree of pain that each person experiences varies widely and is contingent upon several circumstances, including the stage of cancer, the person’s pain threshold, and the efficacy of pain management strategies. It’s difficult to pinpoint one cancer as the “most painful definitively,” but several tumours are more likely to induce excruciating pain because of their location, aggressiveness, or diagnosis stage.

What Leads to Pancreatic Cancer?

Smoking is the single largest risk factor for pancreatic cancer. In comparison to non-smokers, smokers have a twice higher chance of developing the disease. Obesity and exposure to specific chemicals, dyes, and pesticides at work are two other preventable causes of pancreatic cancer. Some uncontrollable risk factors for pancreatic cancer are ageing, male gender, African American ethnicity, family history of the disease, diabetes, and specific genetic diseases.

What are the Factors of Pancreatic Pain?

Pain can result from pancreatic cancer as well as its treatment. Furthermore, when the tumour is pressing against the pancreas or nerves or obstructing the digestive tract, patients may have mid-back or upper abdomen pain. In addition, certain medical treatments including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery can also worsen pain.

How Does Pain From Pancreatic Cancer Feel?

The common sign of pancreatic cancer is recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, middle back, or upper back. As previously stated, back and stomach discomfort are caused by a tumour pressing on the spine that develops in the body or the pancreatic tail. The following are some features of pancreatic cancer pain:

Pain originates in the centre of the abdomen and spreads to the back.
Pain is higher on lying down and can often be decreased by leaning forward.
It gets worse after eating.
While pain may come and go, it usually becomes more intense and persistent over time. Each patient experiences pain differently, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about any new pain-related symptoms.

How to Manage Pancreatic Cancer Pain?

The doctor decides whether to use radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery to remove the cancerous tumour. Three types of medications are used to treat pain.

  • Prescription and Over-the-counter: The doctor may recommend Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen for minor pain, swelling and fever.
  • Modest Opioid: The doctor will prescribe codeine, a mild opioid, to treat cancer pain.
  • Powerful Opioid: The strongest opioids used to treat pain associated with cancer are morphine, methadone, and fentanyl.
    Steroids, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications are also helpful in the treatment of cancer pain.

Furthermore, additional treatments for pain management may be necessary, such as

  • Alcohol-induced nerve block: It is frequently possible to reduce pain by chopping or injecting alcohol into some of the nerves close to the pancreas. This can be performed in conjunction with surgery meant to ease a bile duct obstruction or remove a tumour. Anaesthetic or nerve-destroying medication may be injected into the vicinity of the pancreas by the physician as a stand-alone treatment to execute a nerve block. The procedure can be carried out by the doctor using computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound guidance.
  • Thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy: The targeted nerve branches are to be separated during this minimally invasive technique.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound-guided celiac plexus nerve block: This procedure involves the doctor observing the stomach with a tiny, illuminated tube equipped with a camera called an endoscope. After that, the doctor inserts a needle through the stomach to inject an anaesthetic into the nerves that carry pain signals from the pancreas to the brain.
  • Nerve block: Sometimes pain is lessened or relieved by a local anaesthetic or nerve block. The doctor administers local anaesthesia by injecting it into or close to the abdominal nerves.

Alternative Therapies For Cancer Pain

Cancer pain may also be treated using complementary and alternative therapies, such as

  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage treatment
  • Physical treatment
  • Imagery
  • Relaxing

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