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Loss of appetite


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I had a whipple procedure in February and recently had three months chemo, which I stopped due to the side effects. I lost my appetite but now find that I can't eat hardly anything. I can't stand the smell of food cooking. I live on porridge, cornflakes, soup and fruit. Sometimes I can manage a biscuit or cake. My GP has put me on anti-depressants because of my anxiety. Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

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PCUK Nurse Jeni

Hi SandiMK,

Thank you for your post, and welcome to the forums. I am sure that you will find this a supportive place where you will be helped by the members.

I am sorry to hear about your loss of appetite Sandi - was this mainly as a result of the chemo, or was it there since the surgery? Have you seen a dietitian at all concerning this? Many people find that they cant stand the sight/smell of cooking when on chemo - generally, the longer the time after you finish chemo, this begins to fade away.

Do you have any taste changes at all? Metallic? Cardboard? When you do eat, are you able to taste and enjoy your food, or not? Are you maintaining your weight? And are you taking pancreatic enzymes with your food, to help in your digestion?

Sometimes, when the smell of food is affecting a person, a recommendation would be to eat cold foods - finger food which is not a huge volume, but manageable pieces. For a period of time, it might also be a good idea if you think you could manage this, to have food deliveries? Ready cooked meals which you just have to reheat - that way, it eliminates the need for cooking and the smell affecting you. This is a well recognised company who often supply food for those undergoing cancer treatment:


Has the gp suggested any steroids at all to increase your appetite? A short course might work well, for 7 - 10 days - provided your wound is all healed etc....

Hopefully, as time goes on, your taste and appetite should return, as the chemo leaves your system.

Should you have any more queries, please do not hesitate to contact us - details below.

Kind regards,


Jeni Jones

Pancreatic Cancer Specialist Nurse

Support Team

Pancreatic Cancer UK

email: nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk

support line: 0808 801 0707

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I found tastes changed and agree with you, the smell of cooking can turn my stomach.

Luckily my wife or son can cook so I stay out of the way.

I found water went metallic. We have mains (chlorinated) water and put it through a filter. That was no help, and I have resorted to bought in bottled water. Expensive but I can drink it! I went off butchers sausages, and some other cooked meats. Strangely enough supermarket 'bland' sausages I can eat! I like salad cream, rather than mayonnaise, so the stronger taste is good.......

So Sandi, I am sure there are others who have odd tastes. I suspect we are all different, and you eat what you can. My nutitionist has been a great help, so thanks to her.

All the best

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I think the most important bit of my post, is to do with the nutritionist.

They know your case. They know if your weight needs help to go up or down. They can advise on specifics. I have wind problems and now drink a glass of coke in the morning when I am most at risk.

They do not spoil it by making you go down a dry boring route.

They might recommend extra sugar, a sweet pudding, even chocolate.

Talk to them, as they are great!

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