Poor appetite and weight loss
Some people stop feeling interested in eating and lose weight before lung cancer is diagnosed. These symptoms may be caused by the disease itself, or by feeling sick, having difficulty swallowing, being breathless, or feeling down.
Eating well will help you cope better with day-to-day living, treatment and side effects, and improve your quality of life. Consider talking to a dietitian who is experienced in treating people with cancer. A dietitian can help you make small dietary changes to keep you well nourished and recommend protein drinks and other nutritional supplements if needed. You can ask your treatment team to refer you to a dietitian.
Eating when you have little appetite
- Choose high-kilojoule and high-protein foods (e.g. add cheese or cream to meals).
- Eat smaller portions more often (5–6 meals per day), instead of three larger meals.
- Avoid drinking fluids at mealtimes, which can fill you up too quickly.
- Eat moist food such as scrambled eggs. Moister food tends to be easier to eat and will cause less irritation if you have a sore mouth.
- Try eating fresh salads or cold foods if hot food smells make you feel sick. Avoid fatty or sugary foods if these make you feel sick.
- Add ice-cream or fruit to a drink to increase kilojoules.
- Eat more of your favourite foods – follow your cravings.
For more on this, see Nutrition and cancer.
Podcast: Appetite Loss and Nausea
A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne, VIC; Prof Kwun Fong, Thoracic and Sleep Physician and Director, UQ Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, The University of Queensland, QLD; Renae Grundy, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Lung, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Brian Le, Director, Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and The University Of Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Margot Lehman, Senior Radiation Oncologist and Director, Radiation Oncology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Susana Lloyd, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Nicole Parkinson, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia.
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