Diet and pancreatic cancer - support with eating and digestion

Pancreatic cancer can cause problems with diet, digestion and nutrition. We explain how to manage these problems and the symptoms they cause, including taking pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) such as Creon®.

Key facts

What is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy?

Problems with digestion can be managed with pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). You might have heard of Creon®, Nutrizym® or Pancrex®, which are all types of PERT.

PERT replaces the enzymes your pancreas would normally make. This helps you digest your food. You take PERT as capsules with your food and with drinks that are more than 50% milk.

Most people with pancreatic cancer will need to take PERT. If you haven’t been given PERT, ask your doctor or nurse about it.

Read more about pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)

Our specialist nurse, Jeni Jones, explains diet and pancreatic cancer.

Read our information about managing problems with digestion

We have lots of information to help you manage problems with diet.

You can also order printed copies of this information.

You can also download a food diary to record what you eat, the pancreatic enzymes you take and any changes this makes to your digestive symptoms. You might find this useful when you first start taking pancreatic enzymes, to help you work out how many you need to take with different foods. Download the Food and enzymes diary

Order our free information about PERT and diet

How can we support you?

It can be confusing trying to manage your diet and pancreatic enzymes, but we’re here to help.

Our specialist nurses on our free Support Line can explain how to manage diet problems and can support you.

Our app, Medli, also provides useful information about diet and PERT.

Find out more about how we can support you
Specialist nurse Rachel

Everyone who needs PERT should get it

Right now,  many people with pancreatic cancer unfortunately don’t get PERT. That’s unacceptable. That’s why we’ve launched our Transform lives: Prescribe campaign. We’re calling on the NHS to make sure that everyone who needs PERT gets it.

If you have problems digesting your food but haven’t been given PERT, ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian about it.

Find out more about the campaign
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Ask a Dietitian webinar | Tuesday 19th March, 5.30pm - 7pm

Join us for a free evening webinar covering diet, digestion and PERT. There will be a Q&A session with our specialist dietitian speakers at the end. 

Find out more and book your free place

Download our app

Medli provides personalised information and support to help you manage your diagnosis.

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References and acknowledgements


References

Email us at publications@pancreaticcancer.org.uk for references to the sources of information used to write this information.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following people who reviewed our information on Diet and pancreatic cancer.

  • Anna Burton, Specialist Pancreatic Dietitian, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Chloé McMurray, Senior HPB Dietitian, Nutrition & Dietetics, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
  • Emma Westmancoat, HPB Clinical Lead Dietitian, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Mary Phillips, Advanced Clinical Practitioner / Senior Specialist Dietitian (Hepato-pancreatico-biliary surgery), Royal Surrey Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sarah d’Agar, Specialist Oncology Dietitian, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK Information Volunteers
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK Specialist Nurses

Updated March 2023

Review date March 2025