Background: Pain can be a frequent symptom during the natural history of a patient with pancreatic cancer. An increase in incidence with disease progression and the presence of unbearable pain may preclude a curative resection.
Materials and methods: Even in those patients with resectable pancreatic cancer, the presence of pain has an impact on prognosis. To date, we do not really know why some patients develop pain.
Results: Perineural cancer cell invasion is one of the most intriguing characteristics of this neoplasia and may in some cases explain the pain sensation. In addition, so-called "neurogenic inflammation" might also play a role in pain generation in pancreatic cancer, just like in chronic pancreatitis.
Conclusion: In conclusion, understanding the mechanisms of pain in pancreatic cancer could help patients because what counts is not only 5-year survival but also median survival with good quality of life.