Pancreatic Cancer Treatments Self Care

Pancreatic cancer self-care is a combination of feeding the body and feeding the mind. What can people who have pancreatic cancer do to help themselves?

Pancreatic Cancer Patient Care: Diet

The pancreas produces enzymes that assist your body in the digestion of foods and the insulin that regulates sugar in your blood. Depending on the type of treatment you receive, you may have to take insulin or enzyme supplements. Achieving balance between these drugs may take some time.

The regulation of insulin and enzymes, along with the general discomfort you experience as a result of your treatments, may drastically reduce your appetite. Eating can suddenly become quite difficult.

Experts suggest that pancreatic cancer patients eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day instead of trying to eat two or three large meals a day. This will give the body consistent energy without overwhelming the patient with too much food at one sitting. Keeping tempting, healthy snacks that are easy to grab and eat handy, like yogurt or fresh fruit, can also be helpful.

Many people who have pancreatic cancer have a difficult time digesting fats. While you need some fats in your diet to keep up your calorie intake, you also need proteins and carbohydrates for energy. A dietician or physician will probably recommend a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, particularly for those who are taking enzymes to help digestion.

Some healthy foods that are easy to digest include:

  • baby food
  • cereal
  • cheese
  • fresh fruit
  • milk drinks
  • puddings.

A physician or dietician can also recommend vitamins and protein supplements. Protein supplements can be used as a meal or a between-meal snack. You can also sip at them throughout the day if you don’t feel like eating.

Finally, your doctor or dietician will remind you to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Pancreatic Cancer Self-Care: Mental Health

Part of pancreatic self-care is taking care of your emotional well-being, as cancer patients often become depressed. Some of the techniques that you can use include:

  • accepting stressful situations if you cannot change them
  • changing stressful situations if you can
  • keeping a positive attitude as much as possible
  • visualizing yourself as being healthy.

Consider joining a cancer self-help group and enlist the support your family and friends. When you feel down, seek out social interaction, and don’t forget the healing powers of laughter.

Late Stage Pancreatic Cancer Care

Since the symptoms of pancreatic cancer mimic other diseases, pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed after the cancer is well established. Therefore, many patients start their treatments while in the late stages of pancreatic cancer.

The focus in late stage pancreatic cancer care is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible while maintaining as much quality of life as possible. Patients are encouraged to enjoy their lives as much as they can.

Pain management is an important part of late stage pancreatic cancer care. In addition to conventional pain treatments, some patients try hypnosis, hot and cold therapy, physical therapy and massages.


Cancer Help UK (2007). Diet and Pancreatic Cancer. Retrieved July 2, 2007, from the Cancer Help UK Web site:

Hannah, F. (2007). Diet