Ways to manage symptoms of advanced cancer

Below are some ways that you can manage the symptoms of advanced cancer.

Learn more about:


Nausea and vomiting

  • Eat small meals or snacks 5–6 times during the Going without food for long periods can make nausea worse.
  • Choose cold foods or foods at room temperature, such as sandwiches, salads, stewed fruit or jelly.
  • Have food or drink with ginger, e.g. ginger ale, ginger tea or ginger biscuits.
  • Take anti-nausea medicines as prescribed. Let the doctor know if the medicines don’t seem to be working.
  • Avoid fried, greasy or spicy foods or those that have strong smells.
  • Use stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation.

Loss of appetite

  • Focus on eating foods you enjoy.
  • Eat what you feel like, when you feel like it, e.g. have cereal for dinner or a main meal at lunch.
  • Use a smaller plate – a big plate full of food may put you off eating.
  • Relax dietary restrictions. During treatment, maintaining your weight is more important than avoiding full-fat foods.
  • Add flavour to foods with lemon juice, herbs and spices.
  • Add ice-cream or cream to fruit or a smoothie to increase kilojoules and nutrients.
  • Sip on juice, cordials, soft drinks and sports drinks during the day to keep hydrated.
  • Make meals as enjoyable as possible, e.g. play music, light candles or eat with friends.
  • Gentle physical activity can stimulate appetite, e.g. take a short walk around the block.
  • Soft food and clear liquids may be easier to digest.

Breathlessness

  • Use a handheld fan or open a window to increase airflow near your face.
  • Sit up or lean forward on a table with an arm crossed over a pillow to allow your breathing muscles to relax.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing around your waist and chest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Being dehydrated can increase breathlessness.
  • Place chairs around the house so that you can sit down between activities or when moving from room to room.
  • Try to relax or practise different breathing techniques.
  • Use a walking frame or lean on the shopping trolley when at the supermarket, as the position or pace can ease your breathing.
  • Spread out activities during the day or break them up into smaller tasks.

Fatigue

  • Plan activities for the time of day when you feel less tired, and include rest times.
  • Do regular gentle activities, such as walking to the letterbox, doing stretches or getting out of bed for meals.
  • Avoid stress where possible – relaxation techniques or meditation can help. Listen to our relaxation and meditation recordings.
  • Have several short naps rather than one long rest during the day.
  • Limit visitors if you find they are tiring you.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can cause tiredness and energy loss.
  • Use Meals on Wheels or other home delivery meal companies that bring prepared food to you, or buy frozen meals from the supermarket.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on living with advanced cancer.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in December 2019
View who reviewed this content
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Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
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