Keeping comfortable. Palliative means to alleviate symptoms. This can be done with medications. Radiation can be given for pain. If there is no spread outside the pancreas head and surgery was not possible patients do get radiation and chemotherapy to slow progression. Though patients in this case are not likely cured, they do benefit from the palliation.
Important. This cancer has a poor prognosis. When palliative care is offered it is a transition from offering treatments that are intended to cure the diseases to treatments that are focused on comfort. Therefore focusing on quality of live rather than the quantity.
Pain and blocked. Ducts. Stents have remarkably improved obstruction, for short times. Chemotherapy with gemcitabine claims benefits. Pain can be helped with translumbar nerve blocks and possibly radiotherapy. Seek palliative care and hospice consults now; optimixing your quality of life and comfort is of paramount importance.
Available. Unfortunately, typically no cure-spread too much at time of diagnosis. Stents (bypass tubes) can be inserted for bile duct blockage, or bowel blockage. Sometimes surgery to connect stomach to small bowel for drainage, if duodenum is blocked. Pain meds for sure. Sometimes chemo can reduce extensive metastatic disease in other organs, shrink primary tumor. Talk to oncologist, experienced surgeon.
Most likely issues. Include pain (opioids may be needed), nerve blocks (done by specialists), blockage of biliary ducts (often treated with stents), depression, fatigue, nausea, coping issues, advance care planning, talking to family and friends--and palliative care can help with any or all of these.
Pain Pump. Depending on the patient's overall condition, various types of "pain pumps" could work well. Pain medication can be delivered through intravenous catheters, or through spinal catheters, for long term pain control. There are several variations of this modality that should work with almost any patient. Ask your oncologist for further information.