Effects of Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment is geared toward positive outcomes, such as removing the cancer, reducing tumor size, and preventing recurrence. However, many of the treatments used to accomplish that have their own challenges for our bodies. Prior knowledge of what to expect helps in treatment decision-making and getting the support you need to deal with these effects.

Chemotherapy-related effects;

  • Fatigue: The most common effect of cancer treatment, this fatigue is different than the kind healthy people experience. It can result from any type of cancer treatment.
  • Nausea and vomiting: These can be serious consequences of cancer treatment, but Siteman has considerable experience managing these so cancer therapy can continue and you can live your normal life.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that control the sensation in our arms and legs.

Your doctor’s office can supply you with information on the anticipated effects of your specific treatment.

Nutritional needs: Patients with pancreatic cancer may have special nutritional needs. If surgery has been done to remove the pancreas, important pancreatic enzymes that help digest food are lost and may need supplemental medications to replace. If a gastric bypass was done, certain vitamins also need supplementing.

Pain: Tumors, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can all cause pain with cancer.

Sleep disorders: More common in people with cancer, sleep may be disturbed by the cancer, pain, or certain drugs or treatments.

Side effects related to biologic/immunotherapy: Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, while effective, can cause side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated liver function tests
  • Decreased thyroid function
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Skin rash
  • Inflammation of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet


Cardio-oncology is a new medical discipline focused on optimally treating any associated heart conditions in patients who have been treated for cancer, or are currently being treated for cancer. Specialized cardiologists can assess patients for the potential risk of developing certain heart conditions, especially if they are receiving particular types of cancer drugs, or following radiation treatment to the chest.