- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Radiation therapy
- Managing radiation therapy side effects
- Appetite loss and nausea
Appetite loss and nausea
Some people may lose interest in food or find it difficult to eat well during radiation therapy. This can depend on the part of the body being treated. It is important to try to keep eating well so you get the nutrition you need to maintain your weight. Good nutrition will give you more strength, help manage side effects, and improve how you respond to treatment.
Learn more about:
- Radiation therapy near the abdomen, pelvic region or head
- Radiation therapy to the head and neck area
- How to manage appetite changes
Radiation therapy near the abdomen, pelvic region or head
You may feel sick (nauseated), with or without vomiting, for several hours after each treatment. Your radiation oncologist may prescribe medicine (antiemetic) to take at home before and after each session to prevent nausea. If you are finding nausea difficult to manage, talk to the radiation oncologist or nurse, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Radiation therapy to the head and neck area
Chewing or swallowing may be difficult or painful. Your sense of taste may also change if radiation therapy has affected the salivary glands or tastebuds. In some cases, taste changes may be permanent.
If you are finding it difficult to eat well and get the nutrition you need, a dietitian can suggest changes to your diet, liquid supplements or a feeding tube. Dietitians work in all public and most private hospitals. You can ask your cancer care team if they can arrange an appointment with a dietitian. To find an accredited practising dietitian in your area, visit dietitiansaustralia.org.au.
How to manage appetite changes
At first, I couldn’t think about eating without thinking about throwing up. Drinking ginger beer helped control the nausea.Simon
Podcast: Appetite Loss and Nausea
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof June Corry, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Senior Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast, Hervey Bay Hospital, and The University of Queensland, QLD; Sandra Donaldson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Jane Freeman, Accredited Practising Dietitian (Cancer specialist), Canutrition, NSW; Sinead Hanley, Consumer; David Jolly, Senior Medical Physicist, Icon Cancer Centre Richmond, VIC; Christine Kitto, Consumer; A/Prof Grace Kong, Nuclear Medicine Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Sasha Senthi, Radiation Oncologist, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University, VIC; John Spurr, Consumer; Chris Twyford, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Radiation Oncology, Cancer Rapid Assessment Unit and Outpatients, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Gabrielle Vigar, Nurse Unit Manager, Radiation Oncology/Cancer Outpatients, Cancer Program, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA.
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