Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)

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

Key facts about PERT

  • Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) can help you manage the digestion symptoms you may get when you have pancreatic cancer.
  • PERT can make a big difference to how you feel. It can also help you cope better with treatments like chemotherapy and surgery.
  • You take PERT as capsules with your food. You should take it with most food, including meals, snacks, and milky drinks.
  • You should take more capsules when you are eating larger meals, taking longer to eat, or eating fatty foods.
  • PERT only works if you take it correctly. Read more about how to take PERT.
  • PERT is available on the NHS. The brand names are Creon®, Nutrizym®, or Pancrex®.
  • We are aware that there have been problems with the supply of some brands of PERT recently. If this is affecting you, find out more in our blog, including things you can do.

What is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy?

Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) replaces the enzymes that your pancreas would normally make.

The enzymes come in capsules that you take with food. These help you to digest your food by breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your food. Most people with pancreatic cancer will need to take PERT.

All pancreatic enzymes are made from pork products, and there is no alternative. You may see vegetarian enzymes in shops or online, but these are not used for pancreatic cancer as there is no evidence that they work. Organisations representing Jewish and Muslim communities have said that pork based treatments are acceptable to use. The Vegetarian Society and Vegan Society have also said that they are acceptable. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you are allergic to pork products or have concerns about taking enzymes.

If you need PERT, you will need to take it for the rest of your life as your pancreas will not start making enzymes again.

If you haven’t been told about pancreatic enzymes, ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian about them. You could show them this webpage.

Questions about pancreatic enzymes?

If you have any questions or if you have problems getting PERT, speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

Speak to our nurses
A specialist nurse taking a phone call.

Read our fact sheet about pancreatic enzymes

You can download or order our fact sheet, How to manage problems with digestion using pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), to find out more about how to take pancreatic enzymes.

Download the fact sheet

Order a free copy of the fact sheet
how to manage problems with digestion using pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)

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

Updated March 2023

Review date March 2025