What to eat in case of pancreatic cancer?


Patients who suffer from pancreatic cancer require a special diet. This is
related to the fact that by the insufficient production of digestive enzymes of the pancreas certain parts of the food can not be digested any more. Frequently in pancreatic cancer patients also the blood sugar situation is altered, sometimes a diabetes mellitus can develop, which warrants a specific diet and insulin therapy.

What to eat in case of a surgical resection of the pancreas ?

Because of the lack of the digestive secretes of the pancreas, there is only an insufficient amount of the enzyme lipase, which plays an essential role in the digestion of fat. This enzyme must be replaced by an enzyme medication (Kreon capsules) which should be taken at the beginning of each meal. The dosage of Kreon depends on the magnitude of the food and its fat content and should be adapted individually. A common dose is 3×2 capsules a 25.000 units for every main course. It is better to choose a high dosage rather than a low one since there are no side effects in case of intake of an “overdosage”. The success of treatment can be easiliy controlled by the appearance of the stool (should be dark and consistent rather than light smelly fat stools) and by the body weight, which should remain at least constant.

For the long term, supplementation of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K should be kept in consideration.

If as a consequence of operation diabetes has developed, it is necessary to change the eating habits and substitute insulin. A diabetes ambulance and a dietary assistant should be consulted.

It is important in all patients to avoid an insufficient amount of food and inadequate digestion. Sometimes high-caloric drinks should be taken in addition to regular food. This so called “astronaut cost” can be purchased in pharmacies. If the reason for insufficient food intake is a lack of appetite, consult your oncologist: there are specific medications available to counteract this problem.

Diet in patients without resection of the pancreas:

Digestion problems frequently also occur in patients with locally-advanced or metastatic disease. Comparable recomendations as indicated above for resected patients are therefore relevant (enzyme preparation Kreon, addition of fat-soluble vitamins, appropriate diet & treatment of diabetes). Not eating enough and consecutive weight loss should be strictly avoided in these patients. They are allowed to eat whatever they want, nothing is forbidden, the most important thing is that they like and tolerate it well. Food should be prepared nicely and in smaller portions, but eaten more frequently a day. There are some medications available that can stimulate the appetite and / or counteract nausea.