Q. I've been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and want to know if the back pain I am experiencing worsens over time? How can I manage it?
Unfortunately, pain is very common with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The good news is that often the pain lessens as the chemotherapy and/or radiation works to shrink the tumor. Speak with your oncologist or radiologist about how to best manage your pain. There are now a variety of pain medications that can lessen your pain without harsh side effects.
Prepare for the discussion with your doctor by keeping track of your pain by writing down:
- When and where you experience pain
- What is the intensity of your pain (use a scale of 1 to 10, or verbal scale of mild, moderate, severe)
- Does anything make your pain worse?
- Does anything relieve your pain?
- How is pain affecting your everyday life?
Because pain can be difficult to describe, it might be helpful to have friends or family share their assessments as well. It’s always a good idea to bring someone with you to any appointment; another set of ears can help reduce confusion. I recommend that you bring a list of questions to the appointment and have someone write down the doctor’s responses. People sometimes even bring a recording device - just make sure to ask the doctor for permission.
And finally, the American Pain Society offers useful information.