Pain and pain generation in pancreatic cancer

Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2008 Nov;393(6):919-22. doi: 10.1007/s00423-007-0277-z. Epub 2008 Jan 12.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neuritis / pathology
  • Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pancreas / innervation*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival Rate