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Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)

This page explains how to manage problems with diet and digestion cause by pancreatic cancer. It includes information about pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), including Creon®, Pancrease®, Nutrizym® and Pancrex®.

What is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy?

Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy is capsules that replace the enzymes that your pancreas would normally make. These help you to digest your food by breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your food.

Pancreatic enzymes can help manage the symptoms of problems with digestion, such as weight loss or diarrhoea. They can also help you to cope better with treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Managing problems with diet and digestion can make a big difference to how you feel.    

Different brands of enzymes are available in the UK:

  • Creon®
  • Pancrease®
  • Nutrizym®
  • Pancrex®.

All pancreatic enzymes are made from pork products, and there is no alternative. Talk to your doctor if you are allergic to pork products. Organisations representing Jewish and Muslim communities have said that these treatments are acceptable to use.

Vegetarian enzymes are sold in some health food shops and online, but they provide very low doses, are expensive and there is no evidence that they work. Speak to your doctor or dietitian if you have concerns about taking enzymes.

If you haven’t been told about pancreatic enzymes, ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian about them. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line for information.

Read more about pancreatic enzymes

How do I take pancreatic enzymes?

How do I know if I am taking enough enzymes?

Are there any side effects of enzyme supplements? 

Find out more about coping with diet symptoms

Read our diet tips for pancreatic cancer

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023

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