Enzyme replacement improves survival among patients with pancreatic cancer: Results of a population based study

Pancreatology. 2019 Jan;19(1):114-121. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2018.10.010. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) and malnutrition are prevalent among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) can correct PEI but its use among patients with pancreatic cancer is unclear as are effects upon survival. This population-based study sought to address these issues METHODS: Subjects with pancreatic adenocarcinoma were identified from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Propensity score matching generated matched pairs of subjects who did and did not receive PERT. Progression to all-cause mortality was compared using parametric survival models that included a range of relevant co-variables RESULTS: PERT use among the whole cohort (987/4554) was 21.7%. Some 1614 subjects generated 807 matched pairs. This resulted in a total, censored follow-up period of 1643 years. There were 1403 deaths in total, representing unadjusted mortality rates of 748 and 994 deaths per 1000 person-years for PERT-treated cases and their matched non-PERT-treated controls, respectively. With reference to the observed survival in pancreatic adenocarcinoma patients, adjusted median survival time was 262% greater in PERT-treated cases (survival time ratio (STR) = 2.62, 95% CI 2.27-3.02) when compared with matched, non-PERT-treated controls. Survival remained significantly greater among subjects receiving PERT regardless of the studied subgroup with respect to use of surgery or chemotherapy CONCLUSIONS: This population based study observes that the majority of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma do not receive PERT. PERT is associated with increased survival among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma suggesting a lack of clinical awareness and potential benefit of addressing malnutrition among these patients.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy; Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Pancrelipase / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis


  • Pancrelipase

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma