Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)

This section 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.

Questions about pancreatic enzymes?

Speak to your doctor or dietitian if you have questions 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 with any questions.

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

Can you share your experience to help others?

Not enough people with pancreatic cancer get the support they need with issues caused by digesting food, such as weight loss or losing your appetite. We we want to raise awareness of this.

If you currently have pancreatic cancer, have been affected by pancreatic cancer in the past, or have cared for someone with the disease, you can help us by taking our survey.

The survey asks about symptoms caused by digestive issues, and what impact they have on daily life. By sharing your experience, you’ll be helping us make sure that more people get the support they need to cope with the symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

Take our survey

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023