Abdominal pain is an important symptom in most patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Adequate control of pain is often unsatisfactory due to limited treatment options and significant variation in local practice, emphasizing the need for a multidisciplinary approach. This review contends that improvement in the management of PDAC pain will result from a synthesis of best practice and evidence around the world in a multidisciplinary way. To improve clinical utility and evaluation, the evidence was rated according to the GRADE guidelines by a group of international experts. An algorithm is presented, which brings together all currently available treatment options. Pain is best treated early on with analgesics with most patients requiring opioids, but neurolytic procedures are often required later in the disease course. Celiac plexus neurolysis offers medium term relief in a substantial number of patients, but other procedures such as splanchnicectomy are also available. Palliative chemotherapy also provides pain relief as a collateral benefit. It is stressed that the assessment of pain must take into account the broader context of other physical and psychological symptoms. Adjunctive treatments for pain, depression and anxiety as well as radiotherapy, endoscopic therapy and neuromodulation may be required in selected patients. There are few comparative studies to help define which combination and order of these treatment options should be applied. New pain therapies are emerging and could for example target neural transmitters. However, until better methods are available, management of pain should be individualized in a multidisciplinary setting to ensure optimal care.
- Pain management
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
- Supportive care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism