Managing diet if you can’t have surgery

If you can’t have surgery to remove the cancer (inoperable pancreatic cancer), keeping your weight stable and treating any problems with digestion can make a big difference to how you feel.

If you can’t have surgery to remove the cancer treating any problems with digestion and keeping your weight stable can also help you cope better with the cancer and treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that you should be offered pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy. This can help improve your symptoms and help you to feel better.

There are no foods that you should stop eating because of the cancer. If you are eating well and haven’t lost any weight, you can carry on with your normal diet.

Who can help manage my diet?

If you have lost your appetite, are losing weight or are struggling to eat, speak to your medical team or a specialist dietitian. They can help you manage these symptoms and give you advice about what to eat.

If you haven’t seen a specialist dietitian, ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to one.

Who can help manage my diet symptoms?

Sometimes your doctor or dietitian may recommend nutritional supplements. They may also suggest medicine to improve your appetite, such as steroids (for example, dexamethasone) or hormonal therapy (for example, megestrol acetate).

Sometimes the cancer can block the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). This can cause symptoms such as feeling full quickly, feeling and being sick and losing weight. If your duodenum is blocked, this can stop food passing out of the stomach into the duodenum. You may need to have a small tube called a duodenal stent put into your duodenum. Read about diet and a duodenal stent.

Speak to our nurses

If you have any questions about managing your diet, speak to your doctor, nurse or dietitian.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line. They can answer any questions about managing your diet, other symptoms, and provide support.

Speak to our nurses
Pancreatic Cancer Nurse Jeni Jones

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023