Managing digestive symptoms

Pancreatic cancer can cause problems with your digestion. Here people talk about their experiences of managing digestive symptoms after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Digestive symptoms of pancreatic cancer are treated with medicines, such as antacids and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT). There are different brands of PERT available. People we spoke to talked about Creon.

A consultant explains that many people with pancreatic cancer will need medicines such as Creon…

Sometime after surgery Helen started having diarrhoea and wind. The doctor told her to take Creon…

Age at interview 49

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 47

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Creon has helped Richard to digest fats and has made him look and feel much better.

Age at interview 63

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 60

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Bob found out about Creon online when he was worried that he felt sick when he ate. He asked his specialist for it. Steve feels bloated and uncomfortable if he eats a fatty meal without Creon.

Lesley is a vegetarian and wasn’t happy about taking Creon because all forms of PERT are made with pig enzymes. She felt had no choice about taking it because she lost weight quickly without it. She asked the Vegetarian Society and they were reassuring that she was still a vegetarian.

If you’re taking Creon, you need to work out the right amount to take.

Before each meal Vicky has to estimate how much Creon she would need to digest the fats. She…

Age at interview 55

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 53

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Most people said that taking Creon helped their digestion, but it hadn’t worked for Simon’s wife, not even when she followed advice to open the capsules and sprinkle the contents on her food.

Some people said that taking Creon meant they could eat anything they wanted to, even in large quantities. Other people still had problems with some foods. Ann said it was difficult learning what she could and couldn’t eat. She no longer enjoyed cooking because it made her feel sick. A few people mentioned that they found it difficult to digest meat and so had fish and eggs instead.

Phil managed small meals without any Creon. He could still eat all the foods he used to eat but in smaller quantities. Some people, such as Adrian, found it hard to eat enough to keep up their body weight. Their doctors suggested eating small portions at frequent intervals.

Dietitians might suggest special drinks to boost protein and calorie intake. Lilian didn’t like them because they were so sweet. Hamish said they gave him diarrhoea. Adrian said that, like food, they made him feel too full. Lilian also didn’t like some of the high calorie foods that are recommended, such as milk puddings, pastry and cakes.

Fred had to eat his last meal before 7pm so that he didn’t get indigestion or discomfort in the evening. Hamish found it hard to eat enough because of bloating. He also said his taste buds were not working and his food tasted like cardboard.

Some people, such as May, still had bowel problems and lost weight in spite of taking Creon. May also took omeprazole to reduce gastric acid, and metoclopramide, which her doctor prescribed for sickness.

May took Creon but she still had diarrhoea and had her bowels open two or three times a night…

Age at interview 75

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 73

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Some people took many medicines. Peter, for example, took Creon and domperidone, which helps to move food faster through the gut, and helps to prevent nausea, bloating and regurgitation. He also took cyclizine, an antihistamine used to treat sickness or dizziness. At times he also took loperamide (Imodium), which is used to treat diarrhoea. This drug slows the forward movement of intestinal contents by the intestinal muscles. He also took thiamine (vitamin B1), and painkillers. Fred took about 13 tablets each day, including Creon, and iron tablets.

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