Jump to content

Difficulty in chewing and swallowing food - is this typical?


Recommended Posts


I have a question on behalf of my dad (68, diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer on 8th March).

Dad has always loved his food and when he started feeling poorly (end of January this year) he started to eat less as he wasn't hungry and when he did eat felt uncomfortable. He was also very constipated (which made him not want to eat much).

He was then taken in to hospital in early Feb, which was when the round of investigations leading to his PC diagnosis started. Initially they were looking into his bowel as his main sympton was constipation and distended abdomen.

Over the 6 weeks he was in hospital, he started to find that he couldn't eat any food which he needed to chew - it started with chicken, and then meat and then to the stage where he even struggled to eat soft white fish.

He is wondering what caused this. He's no appetite, but would still like to try and eat a few nice things. Currently we are giving him Fortisip drinks, plus little bits of whatever else he fancies (soup, mash and gravy, custard etc).

Has this happened to anybody else? Is there a physical reason why PC patients cannot or do not like to chew? Or is it the body's way of trying to naturally decrease food intake?

Somebody did suggest that his difficulty chewing and swallowing (he struggles to take his tablets) was psychological/emotional. Dad doesn't agree with this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Leslie Glegg

Hi Jan

My sister Anne also lost her swallowing reflex for food & medication. When she tried to take a pill, her tongue simply lolled around inside her mouth & pushed the pill back out again.

Her medics told her it was caused by her tumour, which by that time had spread to her stomach. Because there was almost no room for anything else in there, her digestive system stopped her sending more food or pills down her throat. She stopped eating solid food last December. I don't recall any particular problems with chewing, but perhaps a dry mouth, due to medication, might be the cause?

Whether or not this is the reason for your Dad's problems I'm sure he's correct in thinking that the cause is very likely to be physical. You'll also find references to inability to swallow in 'Final Gifts'.

You're doing some fantastic work on your Dad's behalf - stay strong!

Regards... Leslie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Leslie.

I think my dad's difficulty in swallowing pills is more that he starts to gag and sometimes is sick after taking them.

I will post about "Final Gifts" on the other thread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Leslie Glegg

Hi again, Jan

Yes, Anne had the gagging & upchucking of pills, too.

So glad you found 'Final Gifts' helpful.

Regards... Leslie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Hi Rosieh

My dad who had pc found it very difficult to swallow and chew food and would always opt for soft foods such as shepards pie,mash potatoes,soup.

I do not believe it is emotional as dad would of give anything for a nice piece of steak.

hope this helps.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everyone

This reminded me of my aunts circumstances.

Her first symptoms of feeling unwell were a severe lack of energy as well as appetite. She was diagnosed with a stomach bug, and then a virus, for which she was given antibiotics. A few days later, she could not go to the bedroom unaided, and was eating barely nothing. She was then sent to the hospital for tests, which revealed that she had inoperable pancreatic cancer. At the point of the test results being given, she could barely swallow. The next day, the McMillan nurses came in to assess her for palliative care, and during the assessment, noted that she had severe mouth thrush. The prescribed treatment cleared up the condition in about 24 hours, and she was able to swallow liquids so much easier. Had this been picked up 2 weeks earlier, it makes me wonder whether she would have been in a far better position to battle the onslaught. As it was, she was so weak, she passed away in 5 days from diagnosis. From what Ive heard, most sufferers have great difficulty in eating, drinking, chewing etc.. My aunt had no time to think about the cancer.I think she is excellent proof that these difficulties are not in the mind, as had been suggested earlier I think it is simply a clear symptom of the cancer itself. She still had no appetite, which seemed to be caused by her greatly distended stomach in fact, at one point, she was convinced she was expecting a baby.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using our forums you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.