Stents, bypass surgery and other treatments of symptoms.

Here we talk about peoples experiences of having their pancreatic symptoms treated with stents and bypass surgery.
People may need treatment to manage the symptoms of pancreatic cancer before the cancer itself is treated. Symptoms can include pain, itching (from jaundice), sickness or weight loss. Your doctor might give you painkillers for the pain and medicine to control the itching. They may also ask a dietitian to give advice to prevent weight loss.
Sometimes pancreatic cancer can block your bile duct and cause jaundice. It can also cause a blockage in your intestine causing sickness and weight-loss. These blockages can be treated by stents and bypass surgery.


A stent is a thin plastic or metal tube. Doctors use a stent to support part of the bile duct and help keep it open. Stents can also be used to treat a blockage in the small intestine (duodenum).

A consultant explains why it is important to assess the situation carefully before inserting a…

Putting in a stent with ERCP

The doctor may use endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatography (ERCP) to put in the stent.
ERCP was used in the case of most of the people we spoke to. Some people found it scary, uncomfortable or even painful. Others rdidnt remember much about it. Some people had more than one stent out in. Theadora’s mother had five stents during the course of her illness. John’s wife had a plastic stent replaced by a metal one, with good results.

Steve had a stent inserted to relieve his jaundice. He felt much better after the procedure. The…

Age at interview 47

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 47

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Helen had a stent inserted to relieve jaundice and had a biopsy at the same time. Afterwards she…

Age at interview 49

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 47

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Putting in a stent with PTC

If this is not possible to use ERCP the doctor can go in through the wall of your tummy. This procedure is called percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC). Dye is injected through the skin, and liver, into the bile duct, to show up the blockage, then x-rays are taken (percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography) to help the doctor to see where to put the stent.
Another way doctors use to see inside the bile ducts is transabdominal ultrasound. Richard (Interview 22) thought that his doctor had used ultrasound to help him insert a stent in the right place.

When Richard needed a stent the surgeon tried to insert one using an endoscopy but was…

Age at interview 63

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 60

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Richards surgeon failed to insert a stent using ERCP. The surgeon used ultrasound to help him…

Age at interview 59

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 58

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Bypass surgery

Where possible, doctors can do surgery to remove the cancer. In some cases the surgeon might find that the cancer has spread too far and cant be removed. If this happens, they may do a smaller operation to bypass the bile duct or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). This can help stop the symptoms of jaundice or unblock the duodenum.

One man had surgery but the surgeon was unable to to remove his tumour (cancer). Instead the surgeon had only been able to bypass the bile duct. The man was very disappointed when he woke up from the surgery. Another man awoke to discover he had had a bypass operation to relieve a block in his small intestine.

Surgeons performed a gastrojejunostomy to overcome the obstruction caused by the tumour and to…

Age at interview 72

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 70

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Bens surgeon wasnt able to remove his tumour. Some time later his bowel became blocked and he started being sick. He then had another operation to bypass the blockage.

Surgery to remove pancreatic cancer

We talked to people who had surgery for pancreatic cancer. Their experiences are described here. {media 40409} Some people we talked to had surgery to...