Lack of appetite and weight loss
Some people have little interest in eating and lose weight even before mesothelioma is diagnosed. These symptoms may be caused by the disease itself, or by nausea, trouble swallowing, changes in taste or smell, breathlessness, abdominal pain, or feeling down (see Living with pleural mesothelioma).
Eating well will help you cope better with day-to-day living, treatment and side effects, and improve your quality of life. A palliative care specialist can help manage symptoms that affect your appetite or ability to eat. You may also find it useful to talk to a dietitian who is experienced in treating people with cancer. They can provide helpful eating suggestions.
Listen to our podcast on Appetite Loss and Nausea
Eating when you have little appetite
- Have small meals and snacks regularly. A large, full plate may put you off eating – try using a smaller plate with smaller portions. Likewise, drink from a half-full glass.
- Eat moist food such as scrambled eggs. Moist food tends to be easier to eat and will cause less irritation if you have a sore mouth.
- Avoid fatty or sugary foods if these make you feel sick.
- Use lemon juice and herbs to add flavour to bland food.
- Eat more of your favourite foods – follow your cravings.
- If solid food doesn’t appeal, ask a dietitian about protein drinks or other supplements.
- For more on this, see Nutrition and cancer, and listen to our podcast.
A/Prof Brian McCaughan, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Theodora Ahilas, Principal Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, NSW; Prof David Ball, Director, Lung Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Shirley Bare, Consumer; Cassandra Dickens, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Care Coordinator – Thoracic Malignancies, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Penny Jacomos, Social Worker, Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia, SA; A/Prof Thomas John, Medical Oncologist, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Austin Health, and Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, VIC; Victoria Keena, Executive Officer, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, NSW; Penny Lefeuvre, Consumer; Jocelyn McLean, Mesothelioma Support Coordinator, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, NSW; Prof David Morris, Peritonectomy Surgeon, St George Hospital and University of New South Wales, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Prof Anna Nowak, Medical Oncologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, WA; Prof Jennifer Philip, Palliative Care Specialist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Nicole Taylor, Acting Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, The Canberra Hospital, ACT. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. Previous editions of this title and related resources were funded in part by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities and a donation from Lyall Watts.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a qualified health professional someone who has been there, support groups & forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Nutrition and cancer
Learn about nutrition, and suggest tips for eating well during and after cancer treatment
Nutrition and cancer help for carers
Tips for preparing food for someone with cancer
Patient rights and responsibilities
What you can reasonably expect from your health care providers