Poor appetite and weight loss
Because the liver plays a key role in the digestive system, secondary liver cancer can affect your appetite and you may lose weight.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other cancer treatments can also have an impact on appetite and weight, especially if you have side effects such as nausea and vomiting, mouth ulcers, and taste and smell changes. For tips see below.
How to stay well nourished
During and after treatment, it’s important to eat and drink enough to keep your energy levels up. Maintaining your weight can help your recovery.
Eat foods you enjoyEat foods that you like, but also try different foods; your taste and tolerance to some foods may change. Chew foods well and slowly. Keep a selection of snacks handy (e.g in your bag or in the car).
Drink liquidsPrevent dehydration by drinking liquids between meals (e.g. 30–60 minutes before or after meals). Avoid filling up on liquids at mealtimes – unless it’s a hearty soup.
Ask for advice and helpTalk to a dietitian about how you can add more energy and protein to your meals. Ask your friends and family to cook for you and offer you food throughout the day. Try having small, frequent meals or snacks rather than three large meals each day.
See Nutrition and cancer for more information and meal ideas.
Podcast: Appetite Loss and Nausea
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; A/Prof Siddhartha Baxi, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director, GenesisCare, Gold Coast, QLD; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, NSLHD Supportive and Palliative Care Network, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Anne Dowling, Hepatoma Clinical Nurse Consultant and Liver Transplant Coordinator, Austin Health, VIC; A/Prof Koroush Haghighi, Liver, Pancreas and Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s Hospitals, NSW; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Brett Knowles, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and General Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Lina Sharma, Consumer; A/Prof Simone Strasser, Hepatologist, AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; David Thomas, Consumer.
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