FEELING BETTER

Practical information abut managing symptoms - people find that useful
Belinda, Cancer dietitian

Diet

The pancreas is important for digesting food – it produces enzymes that break food down into nutrients which are absorbed by your body.​

Pancreatic cancer and its treatment change how your pancreas functions. Weight loss is very common as is poor appetite, nausea and changed bowel habits. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.​

Pancreatic enzyme supplements

Pancreatic enzyme supplements such as Creon, replace the enzymes your pancreas would usually make. If you need this your doctor will prescribe it for you. These supplements improve symptoms such as frequent, pale or loose bowel movements or weight loss . When these symptoms are managed well this will help you to feel better. Ask your doctor if you think you need help with these problems.

If you are taking pancreatic enzyme supplements it can take time to work out your right dose

The enzyme supplement, Creon completely stopped all the digestive symptoms that he had, the burping and the reflux, all of it, it worked really well.

Wendy, wife and carer of Graeme with pancreatic cancer

The pancreas also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon to control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer and its treatment can affect the production of these hormones so your blood sugar may become too high and you may develop diabetes, or too low (hypoglycaemia) – it important to get correct advice to manage this properly.​

Cancer Dietitian

Seeing a dietitian who is experienced in pancreatic cancer is important to prevent and manage weight loss and to make sure that your diet and nutrition is the best it can be. Ask your treating doctor for a referral to a cancer dietitian.​

For information on managing dietary symptoms read the Pancare Foundation Dietary handbook (pdf) for people with pancreatic cancer

Dietary Tips

Being able to eat well can make a big difference to how you feel. These tips can help:​

  • Eat nourishing foods and fluids that are high in energy and protein​
  • Try eating little and often because large portions may be hard to eat – every mouthful helps​
  • If you feel sick or full have a break, and eat some more later​
  • Freeze individual portions to defrost for when you feel like eating​
  • Well presented food on the plate can help it look more tempting​
  • Support and gentle encouragement from family can help with food preparation and eating
fruit bowl

I did chemo, the first 3 days I didn’t want to eat anything, I didn’t feel like eating. But my wife always brings me something, she puts it in front of me on the table, says eat a little bit…I take a little bit …..she brings something else later. She looks after me…

Spiros, 71yrs living with pancreatic cancer

Nourishing foods

High protein and high energy foods are best to maintain your weight

High protein foods

  • Meat, chicken and fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans, chickpeas & legumes
  • Full cream milk & milk products eg milkshakes
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt, custard and ice cream
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Nutrition supplement bars & powders

High energy foods​

  • Butter, margarine & oil​
  • Cream & coconut milk​
  • Dips ​
  • Dried fruit​
  • Avocado​
  • Jam, honey, maple syrup & sugar​
  • Nuts, seeds & chocolate ​

Refer to the Dietary handbook (pdf) or your dietitian for detailed diet information​

The minute dad was diagnosed, the first thing he said was: what can I eat, what should I eat, what shouldn’t I eat? Because food is the focus of our culture. Our family gets together over a big family feast and it’s the core of family life.

Irene, carer of her dad with pancreatic cancer