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Side effects of taking pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy replaces the enzymes that your pancreas would normally make. If you have pancreatic cancer, taking pancreatic enzymes can help you digest your food. This can help with symptoms such as weight loss, runny poo (diarrhoea) or losing your appetite.

Your dietitian, doctor or nurse can tell you how to work out the best dose of enzymes for you. Read more about working out the best dose of pancreatic enzymes for you.

What happens if I take too many pancreatic enzymes?

Any pancreatic enzymes that your body doesn’t need will pass through you. If you take one or two more capsules than you need, this won’t be a problem. If you take lots more than you need it may cause some itching around your anus (bottom). 

If you think you’ve taken too many enzymes and you feel unwell, speak to your medical team. Make sure you take your enzymes at your next meal as usual.

Are there any side effects of pancreatic enzymes?

It is not common to get side effects from taking pancreatic enzymes, but some people get tummy pain, wind, diarrhoea or they may feel or be sick.     

These symptoms are often caused by the dose of enzymes being too low, rather than a side effect of the enzymes. Increasing the dose may help, or you may need to change the type of enzymes you take.

You can find more information about side effects in the leaflet that comes with your enzymes.

If you have any questions about how to take enzymes, speak to your medical team. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

Find more information on pancreatic enzymes

How do I take pancreatic enzymes?

How do I know if I am taking enough enzymes?

Coping with diet symptoms

Diet tips for pancreatic cancer

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023

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