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Weight loss and reduced appetite in the last few months

Many people with pancreatic cancer lose their appetite and lose weight. People in the last few weeks of life will gradually feel less like eating, and will eat less. This is normal. The cancer can reduce your appetite, and symptoms, such as sickness, pain or fatigue, may put you off eating. And as your body slows down, it needs less food.

Losing a lot of weight can be upsetting for both you and your family. But try not to worry about how much you are eating or about putting weight back on, as you probably won’t be able to put on weight. But there are things that can help manage appetite and weight loss.

What can help with appetite and weight loss?

  • It’s fine to eat and drink what you feel like, even if that’s only small amounts.
  • Try having small meals or snacks of things that you fancy. You may find soft food such as soup, yoghurt or ice cream easier to eat.
  • You should continue to take pancreatic enzyme supplements while you are eating, but you can reduce the amount you take if you are eating less.
  • It is important to treat any problems that are stopping you eating, such as painsickness or tiredness.
  • Gentle physical activity can help to increase your appetite and help you maintain or improve your strength and fitness.

Your doctor or nurse can refer you to a dietitian for help with eating. They may suggest nutritional supplements to increase the amount of energy (calories) and protein in your diet.

Information for family members – helping with eating

It can be difficult if your loved one doesn’t feel like eating and is losing weight. But remember that this is normal. Don’t try to make them eat if they don’t want to. Support them by asking what they fancy and preparing food for them. And try not to be upset if they don’t eat much of it.

Read more about other symptoms:

Information Standard

Published March 2018

Review date March 2020

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