Lack of appetite and weight loss

Some people stop feeling interested in eating and lose weight even before pleural 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.

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 impact on 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 a podcast on Appetite Loss and Nausea

Eating when you have little appetite

  • Eat small meals and snacks regularly. A large, full plate may put you off eating – try using a smaller plate with less daunting portions. Likewise, drink from a half-full glass.
  • Eat more of your favourite foods – follow your cravings.
  • Try eating salads or cold foods if hot food smells make you nauseous.
  • Avoid fatty or sugary foods. These may make you feel sick.
  • Use lemon juice and herbs to add flavour to bland food.
  • 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.
  • Add ice-cream or fruit to a drink to increase kilojoules and nutrients.
  • If solid food doesn’t appeal, ask a dietitian about protein drinks or other supplements.

This information was last reviewed in May 2017
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