Participation in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN’s) Patient Registry has provided important insight into the prescription of, and patient compliance with, pancreatic enzymes.

Good nutritional care improves outcomes and is critical for pancreatic cancer patients’ quality of life. PanCAN strongly recommends that patients have access to pancreatic enzymes and see a registered dietitian.

The data generated from the Patient Registry will be presented at the upcoming American Pancreatic Association (APA) Annual Meeting, on Nov. 10, in San Diego.

“Thanks to patients’ and caregivers’ willingness to share their experiences via our Patient Registry, we learned key information about the ways that doctors are prescribing pancreatic enzymes, as well as what happens when patients do – and don’t – heed their advice,” said Amy Westermann, MPH, Patient Registry manager at PanCAN, who will be presenting the poster at the meeting.

Enzymes are secreted by the pancreas to break down food, and often pancreatic tumors inhibit this process, causing enzyme insufficiency. Enzyme insufficiency can cause immense discomfort and weight loss, symptoms that can dramatically affect patients’ quality of life and their ability to tolerate treatment. Administration of pancreatic enzymes, also known as pancreatic exocrine replacement therapy (PERT), functions to replenish enzymes and alleviate related symptoms.

Among the 218 Patient Registry respondents who completed the Enzymes survey, 84 percent reported having spoken with their healthcare professionals about enzymes. (It’s worth noting that people who opted to fill out the Enzymes survey were inherently more likely to have had discussions about, and been prescribed, enzymes.) PERT was prescribed to 90 percent of the patients who filled out this survey – but only 64 percent of patients were appropriately instructed to take the medication with meals.

And, even more alarmingly, the results showed that only 38 percent of patients complied with their doctor’s recommendation of when to take PERT.

“Our Patient Registry data show a statistically and – more importantly – clinically significant improvement in patient symptoms when they take PERT with meals,” said Westermann. “Symptoms such as feelings of indigestion and weight loss were notably decreased upon taking their enzymes correctly.”

Westermann continued: “These learnings were made possible by patients and caregivers taking the time to fill out surveys within our Patient Registry. Now, we can disseminate these results and aim to improve doctors’ and patients’ education around the proper administration of pancreatic enzymes.”

The results were also recently presented at the World Congress of Gastroenterology at ACG2017 meeting last month.

Join our Patient Registry today to accelerate pancreatic cancer research by sharing your experiences.