Whether you’ve completed pancreatic cancer treatment or need ongoing therapies, you can count on Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center for leading-edge care and personal attention.
Treatment can remove the cancer in some pancreatic cancer survivors. But for many people with pancreatic cancer, treatment can't destroy the cancer entirely, or the cancer can come back elsewhere in your body. Living with pancreatic cancer can be difficult and stressful, but we're here to help.
This ongoing support to keep you healthy is called survivorship care, which includes regular checkups with your care team. These survivorship checkups let us keep a close eye on your health and manage any side effects. It also allows us to make sure cancer hasn’t returned or spread.
An essential part of your follow-up care is a survivorship care plan based on input from your cancer care team, which ensures you get all the support you need to feel your best. This document offers you and your healthcare providers information about your cancer treatments and provides guidance for follow-up visits and testing.
Your survivorship visits ensure we’re able to support all aspects of your well-being, including your emotional health. It’s the perfect time to discuss any concerns you may have and connect you with the cancer support services and education at Sylvester. We also provide you with information about local and national organizations that support pancreatic cancer survivors and families.
What are pancreatic cancer treatment side effects?
Pancreatic cancer treatment may cause side effects, but you can count on us to give you ongoing attention to help manage them.
Sometimes pancreatic cancer or its treatment, particularly surgery, can cause diabetes. If you develop diabetes, you get expert care from UHealth diabetes specialists to manage your health, including support from a dietitian.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery for pancreatic cancer can affect how you digest food and may cause weight loss and weakness from poor nutrition. You may have bloating, gas, or changes to your bowel function. You get expert care to help manage gastrointestinal issues and make sure you get the nutrients you need, including one-on-one support from a dietitian.
Nerve damage (neuropathy)
Tumors that press on surrounding nerves and chemotherapy can damage nerves, which can cause pain, burning, numbness, or tingling. Acupuncture and pain medicine can help, and exercise can improve circulation to irritated nerves and relieve symptoms.
Pain and tiredness
Some pancreatic cancer survivors have pain even after treatment has finished. It's also common to feel tired and weak, often from weight loss. We offer a full range of supportive care to help you feel better, including a variety of therapies to relieve pain – such as acupuncture and massage therapy. You can also get exercise guidance to help get you moving again and reduce fatigue.
Life after pancreatic cancer treatment
There are a few things you can do to improve your health and help lower your risk of developing a second cancer, including:
- Don't drink alcohol. If you do, limit how much you drink – no more than one drink daily for women or two for men.
- Don’t smoke. Avoiding smoking reduces your risk of most lung cancers and lowers your chances of developing a new pancreatic cancer.
- Exercise and be active throughout the day.
- Stay at a healthy weight, and eat a nutritious diet of unprocessed foods like whole grains, vegetables, and lean meats. Avoid red meats and high-fat, high-salt, or high-sugar foods.
Palliative care and support groups for pancreatic cancer survivors
Palliative care, also called supportive care, focuses on relieving pain and improving how you feel at every stage of cancer treatment and survivorship. No two people have the same needs, so we make sure you get the personal attention you need to feel your best.
You get comprehensive care and guidance through our personalized cancer support services, including our cancer support groups. Support groups let you hear from and get encouragement from others who can relate to what you’re going through – you don’t have to go through this alone.
If you need additional support, our social workers, mental health specialists, and chaplains are here for you. We also offer support services for caregivers. It’s comforting to know you can count on Sylvester to give you ongoing support for you and your family every step of the way.
How can I learn more about long-term follow-up care for pancreatic cancer survivors?
Follow-up care is essential to keeping you healthy and ensuring you have the highest quality of life possible. To learn more about our survivorship care program and personalized services for pancreatic cancer survivors, email us at SCCCSURVIVORSHIP@miami.edu.