- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Managing symptoms
- Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite
People with advanced cancer often notice changes in their appetite. This may be because of the cancer itself, treatment, or other side effects such as tiredness, nausea or vomiting, taste changes, pain, lack of activity, or depression.
A loss of appetite often leads to weight loss and malnutrition. Eating is important to help you maintain your strength, function and quality of life. However, it’s not necessary to force yourself to eat; this may only make you feel uncomfortable and cause vomiting and stomach pain. Learn more about ways to manage loss of appetite.
Food-type nutritional supplements can increase nutrient intake. These are used as snacks between meals. Many pharmacies and supermarkets sell these specially formulated nutritional supplements. You do not need a prescription from your doctor or dietitian to buy them.
People with advanced cancer may develop a muscle-wasting syndrome known as cachexia. This means the body isn’t using protein, carbohydrates and fats properly. Your doctor or dietitian will discuss ways to control cachexia, which may include nutritional supplements or medicines such as appetite stimulants.
It was very important for our family and friends to be well informed about the ongoing problems with eating and digestion that occur during surgery. Having support helped us adjust to the changes.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
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