3 Common Reactions to a Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

May 7th 2016

Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease and causes a variety of reactions in those diagnosed with it. Support groups and counseling regularly help people accept the diagnosis and move forward, especially if friends and family are also reeling from the news.

Fear and Anger

These may be the two most common reactions to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Most cancer patients feel fear. It is normal to wonder how this diagnosis is going to change your life, what your prognosis is and how sick you are going to be. This can also manifest as anger. Some cancer sufferers feel as if they have been treated unfairly. Others irrationally lash out at their doctors or family as they struggle to process the information.

Shock and Disbelief

Many patients diagnosed with cancer simply refuse to accept it at first. They may seek second opinions or demand more testing. Some simply do not pursue follow-up testing and treatment. Most people take a little while to fully accept the diagnosis, especially if they do not feel sick.

Sadness and Grief

Since cancer can be a terminal disease, many people respond to their diagnosis with grief. They mourn the life they could have, even if their prognosis is good. They may feel a deep sadness, which can lead to clinical depression. Some people isolate themselves from friends and family because they think no one can support them. Many people initially feel a sense of hopelessness and loss. This also often affects the loved ones of cancer patients, which can make it hard for the patient to rely on them. Therapy and support groups can often help with these feelings


Pancreatic cancer is a frightening disease, and a diagnosis can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. It often takes some time to come to terms with the diagnosis. People react to the diagnosis in many different ways, and all are valid, but being aware of the most common reactions can offer comfort.

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