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Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis: What To Expect

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 04, 2022

    Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis: What To Expect

    The treatment plan for pancreatic cancer depends on its staging and the advice of your doctor. Several approaches can be done from surgery, chemotherapy, and palliative care. Learn more about the types of treatments and approaches once/ should there be pancreatic cancer metastasis.

    What Happens in Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer?

    Typically, the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer manifest in the later stages, when it has already spread to other organs and areas in the body. You may experience backache, fatigue, jaundice, depression, weight loss, and an ache in the abdomen, among other symptoms.

    At this stage, the tumor has metastasized and has affected other organs such as the liver.

    Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis: Care and Treatment


    The most common form of treatment is chemotherapy for late-stage pancreatic cancer. This is when there’s pancreatic cancer ptastasis. Typical side effects include hair loss, tiredness, and an increased risk of infection.

    Pain management strategies

    The ability of a tumor to push on nearby nerves and organs as it grows may cause pain and discomfort. Your doctor may opt to sever the nerves causing the pain or inject you with a painkiller. Although this therapy doesn’t treat cancer, it can make you feel more comfortable.

    Surgical palliation

    There are three different types of surgery that can be performed for stage 4 pancreatic cancer, or when there’s pancreatic cancer metastasis. Because cancer has progressed too far, it cannot be removed. However, it can ease whatever obstructions the tumor has caused.

    Surgical bile duct bypass

    If the tumor is obstructing the common bile duct, bypass surgery is an option. Bile can accumulate in the body and induce jaundice, which is characterized by a yellowing of the skin and eyes, when a tumor stops the small intestine.

    Bypass surgery, also known as a choledochojejunostomy, links the bile duct or gallbladder straight to the small intestine to bypass the obstruction.


    The small intestine can be kept open if cancer is obstructing it by using a stent, which is a thin metal tube that is inserted inside the blocked bile duct to open it and allow bile to drain. Bile may drain to the outside of the body or into the small intestine.

    After a few months, you might require another procedure to insert a new stent because the tumor could eventually develop and block the original one.

    Gastric bypass

    In order to get around a tumor that prevents food from passing through your stomach and into your intestines (a condition known as gastric outlet obstruction), you can have surgery called a gastric bypass.

    Key Takeaways

    What happens in pancreatic cancer metastasis? According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, in the United States, around 46,000 individuals died from pancreatic cancer in 2019. Although the median survival time for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is two to six months, keep in mind that each patient’s prognosis will vary depending on a variety of circumstances. Your medical team can provide you with more precise information based on your current state of health.

    Although older patients with stage 4 pancreatic cancer have a shorter life expectancy, older patients are just as likely to respond successfully to treatment. 

    Late-stage cancer therapy can be challenging and stressful. Ask your medical staff, your family, friends, and counselors for assistance and support if you begin to feel overwhelmed.

    Learn more about Pancreatic Cancer here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 04, 2022

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