Nutritional Support

Nutritional Support

VSA’s Pancreatic Cancer Program offers Medical Nutrition Therapy to patients experiencing pancreatic cancer comorbidities. Pancreatic cancer patients occasionally experience symptoms from pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (decreased pancreatic enzyme production), malnutrition, or new onset diabetes (pancreatic endocrine insufficiency) as a result of their disease or its treatment.

VSA’s Dietitian works with patients to provide nutritional education, pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, and specific diet recommendations to fit our patients’ individual needs. We partner with primary care providers and local diabetes educators to assist our patients in managing their blood sugars post-operatively. Our experienced team members work exclusively with pancreatic cancer patients to help them improve their overall nutrition, health, and quality of live.

Our Nutritional Counseling Services Include:

  • Post-operative dietary counseling
  • Diabetic Nutritional Counseling
  • Pancreatic Enzyme Supplementation/Replacement Therapy
  • Malnutrition counseling

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a medical term to describe when the pancreas is not able to produce a sufficient amount of digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes are proteins that help your body break down food in your digestive tract and convert it into smaller nutrients that are usable by the body.

EPI is associated with certain diseases and conditions that affect the pancreas, such as:

  • Chronic Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Cystic Fibrosis (a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive systems)
  • Pancreatectomy (surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas)
  • Gastrointestinal Surgery
  • Pancreatic Cancer and Diabetes
  • Radiation and/or chemotherapy to pancreas

Symptoms include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach Pain
  • Frequent Diarrhea
  • Frequent Bowel Movements
  • Unexplained weight loss

Over time, if EPI is not managed it can lead to vitamin deficiency and malnutrition which could result in:

  • Night blindness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle mass loss
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular events
  • Weakened immune system
  • Possibly pre-mature death
Treatment for EPI requires an experienced medical team and often includes prescribed Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy. PERT works by supplying the digestive tract with the enzymes that the pancreas is no longer able to produce and often alleviates or resolves symptoms of EPI.