Using telemedicine, a doctor answers her pancreatic cancer patient’s questions over the phone

Call your healthcare team if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment or how you’re feeling.

You are your own best advocate.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a disease like pancreatic cancer, it’s important to get all your questions answered and openly discuss your diagnosis, treatment options and long- and short-term goals with your healthcare team.

During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s more critical than ever to be a strong advocate for yourself and your health and wellness.

Below are tips for how to practice self-advocacy during this challenging time.

Speak up if something doesn’t feel right

You know your body – what is normal and what doesn’t feel right – better than anyone else.

If you experience any new or worsening symptoms that may indicate pancreatic cancer – especially if you’re already at high risk for the disease – speak to your healthcare professional right away.

Most hospitals and clinics have systems in place to allow patients to safely come in for essential tests or the administration of treatments.

And if you’ve already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, be sure to let your healthcare team know if any of your symptoms or side effects from treatment are new or have gotten worse. There may be supportive care options that can improve your quality of life and help you better tolerate treatment.

Make sure you get on the ‘Right Track

Research has shown the best outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients come when they:

  • Are treated by healthcare professionals who are specialists – those with considerable experience with the disease
  • Receive the right tests – like germline (genetic) testing and tumor tissue molecular profiling – to learn all the characteristics of your disease and whether those characteristics can impact treatment decisions
  • Consider all treatment options, including clinical trials, and make evidence-based decisions

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Services team is here to help every step of the way.

Contact Patient Services to receive a list of pancreatic cancer specialists near you as well as those who are able to provide second opinions remotely. Patient Services can also discuss treatment options with you and give you personalized information about clinical trials that are open and accepting patients at this time.

PanCAN’s Know Your Tumor® precision medicine service gives patients access to germline (genetic) testing and tumor molecular profiling to determine whether specific features in the patient’s genetic makeup or tumor can inform treatment decisions. Results from Know Your Tumor have shown that patients who are able to go on treatment that matches their tumor biology live longer.

Find a team that makes you comfortable

You should feel comfortable and supported by your healthcare team. PanCAN strongly recommends seeking a healthcare team that suits all of your physical, mental and emotional needs.

If you’re not sure whether your current team is taking the right precautions around the coronavirus or providing you with all your treatment options, seek a second opinion.

And be sure to check in regularly with your medical office if you’re waiting for the go-ahead to get an imaging test, treatment infusion or any other visit, to see if they’re allowing in-person appointments now.

Remember that communication is key. You will be better supported by your medical team – and they will know how to best manage your care – if you speak openly and often about your treatment plan, goals and anything that changes along the way.

You are your own best advocate. PanCAN strongly recommends discussing your treatment goals with your healthcare team and knowing all your options at every stage of your disease.

Contact a Patient Central Associate
Contact PanCAN’s Patient Services for free, personalized disease and treatment information, including a clinical trials search, specialist list and access to Know Your Tumor.