Pain in the pancreas is most commonly due to pancreatitis, either acute or chronic, or pancreatic cancer.
Location and nature of pain
Pancreas pain is felt mainly in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen radiating to the back.
Before treatment it is imperative to know the cause of pancreas pain. Different diagnostic tests including blood and stool tests, ERCP, endoscopic ultrasound, CT Scan, tumor marker tests(CEA and CA19-9) and biopsy should be done to find out the cause-whether pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer is the cause of pain.
– Pain Relief
1. Low fat diet- Decreasing fat content in diet helps in decreasing pain.
2. Giving up alcohol- Giving up alcohol also contributes to decreasing pancreas pain.
3. Pain relievers or analgesics-NSAIDS (e.g.-ibuprofen) can greatly reduce pancreas pain.
4. Morphine- It is recommended if pain is not relieved by NSAIDS. But care should be taken to prevent addiction from this narcotic analgesic.
5. Nerve block as last resort.
Treatment of acute Pancreatitis- It involves the above drugs for pain control along with intravenous fluids and supportive care.
Surgery and other interventions:
1. Chronic Pancreatitis
– Stinting- Involves widening the narrowed pancreatic duct and gives great relief from pancreas pain.
– Pancreatic Lithotripsy- Shock waves break down pancreatic stones which may have lodged in pancreatic ducts.
– Surgery- When the patient does not respond to any of the above treatments surgery is necessary.
– Removing part of pancreas
– As a last resort removing the whole pancreas and islet cells.
2. Pancreatic Cancer
Usually patients come at a very late stage in Pancreatic cancer which rules out surgery in many cases.
The surgical procedure for removing tumor is known as pancreaticoduedenectomy.
If the tumor has not spread out of the pancreas it can be treated by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. If the tumor has spread to other organs only chemotherapy is used.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival- It depends upon:
-whether the tumor is removable by surgery
-Spread of the tumor-Diagnosed before spreading
-General immunity/health of the patient
If the above conditions are not met the average survival rate is less than 1 year.
Perhaps you or a loved one was recently admitted to the hospital with the symptoms of acute pancreatitis: nausea, pain, fever, bloating, etc. Then you probably have many questions about pancreatitis…. medicine will cure your acute or chronic pancreatitis. There is currently no treatment in Western medicine which is able to stop or reverse the root causes of chronic alcoholic pancreatitis: the death of pancreatic cells and the slowed production of digestive enzymes.