Lack of appetite
Lack of appetite is a common problem faced by people with cancer of unknown primary (CUP). Some people don’t feel like eating because of stress from the diagnosis and treatment. The treatment may also change the way food tastes or smells. You might also not want to eat much if you are feeling sick (nauseated) or have a sore mouth. These problems can often be treated, so let your treatment team know.
You may go through periods of having no appetite. These may last a few days or weeks, or be ongoing. During these periods, it may help to have liquid meal substitutes. These are high-kilojoule drinks containing some of the major nutrients needed by your body. Drinking these may help keep your energy levels up during periods when your appetite is poor.
Tips for when you don’t feel like eating
- Have small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day.
- Use small dishes so food isn’t “lost” on the plate, e.g. serve soup in a cup.
- Choose full-fat foods over low-fat, light or diet versions.
- Use lemon juice, fresh herbs, ginger, garlic or honey to add more interesting flavours to bland food.
- Sip fluids throughout the day. Add ice-cream, yoghurt or fruit to drinks to increase kilojoules.
- If you have a sore mouth, eat soft food, such as scrambled eggs or stewed fruit.
- Ask your dietitian if you can use nutrition and protein supplements to help slow weight loss and maintain muscle strength.
Prof Linda Mileshkin, Medical Oncologist, Clinical Researcher, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Christine Bradfield, Consumer; Cindy Bryant, Consumer; Dr Maria Cigolini, Head, Department of Palliative Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Clinical Lecturer, The University of Sydney, NSW; Mary Duffy, Advanced Practice Nurse and Nurse Coordinator, Lung Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dr Siobhan O’Neill, Medical Oncologist, Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre, NSW; Prof Penelope Schofield, Department of Psychological Sciences and the Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, and Head, Behavioural Science in Cancer, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Frank Stoss, Consumer.
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