It is hard to limit the effects of therapy so that only cancer cells are destroyed. Because treatment often damages healthy cells and tissues, it can cause unpleasant side effects.

Surgery usually causes pain and fatigue, but to varying degrees depending on the patient. Afterward, a patient may not have enough pancreatic juices or hormones, and this can cause digestive problems or even diabetes. Prescribed medicine can help relieve diarrhea or other problems such as pain, feelings of fullness, or cramping, and replace hormones that are no longer being produced.

Radiation therapy may cause permanent darkening or "bronzing" of the skin in the treated areas. During radiation therapy patients are likely to become very tired, especially in the later weeks of treatment. Radiation therapy may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or problems with digestion. In most cases, side effects go away when treatment is over.

As a result of chemotherapy, patients may have an increased chance of infection, bruise or bleed easily, have less energy (caused by affected blood cells), loose their hair (caused by affected hair root cells), and suffer from nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or mouth sores (caused by affected digestive tract cells).

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