Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1991 Aug;6(6):360-7. doi: 10.1016/0885-3924(91)90027-2.


We describe the symptoms, physical findings, treatment interventions, risk factors, and length of survival in persons with pancreatic cancer referred to a palliative care service (PCS) in a tertiary care facility. Data were collected prospectively over a 2-yr period using a standard clinical assessment tool in 39 patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer. Common symptoms include pain (82%), anorexia (64%), early satiety (62%), xerostomia and sleep problems (both 54%), and weight loss (51%). Analyzed retrospectively, 82% had at least one known risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer. Twenty-five people presented to the PCS within 1 mo of diagnosis; in this group, length of survival was analyzed according to the presence of specific symptoms, and a significant inverse relationship between the presence of dyspnea and length of survival was found. As there is no effective treatment for surgically unresectable pancreatic cancer, palliation of common symptoms should be the primary emphasis of therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hospices
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Assessment / methods
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / nursing
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors