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Losing weight, cannot eat - any advice?

mary colleen

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My husband has stopped eating. This has come on gradually over three weeks or so. He's not really ever hungry anymore, but is willing to try to eat a couple of times a day. Unfortunately, for reasons we cannot figure out, everything tastes horrible to him and he cannot get past a bite or two without feeling ill. He thinks everything is horribly salty or rancid. We've tried everything from cottage cheese to plain baked potatoes to bland smoothies. He's lost several pounds in the last few weeks, and was lean to begin with.

I'm calling the onc office in the morning to get some advice, but I'm not sure what they can say - he had a clean chest CT 4 weeks ago. Is there anyway this is a rather delayed effect of the WBR that ended on 6/22?

Any advice at all appreciated.


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Has the onc given him anything for his appetite? Megace or Marinol? I understand that the combination of the two works better than either alone.

Will he drink nutritional beverages? Boost or Ensure plus? Our doc had my husband on both meds (when he would take them) but he would never drink the stuff.

I hope you get resolution to this issue. Mike was told to schedule eating just like taking medicine and eat several bites of something every 1/2 hour.

Praying for you both,


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Hi mary colleen

Your husband's situation sounds pretty similar to what happened with my Mum. She had WBR in January/February, and by April, was still very fatigued and had great difficulty eating. Unfortunately, she continued to decline, but her condition was quite different from your husband's in that she still had a tumour in her chest and multiple metastases. We think its likely that her deterioration was due to tumour load as well as the WBR.

I hope that your husband's condition improves, and that you get some useful advice from the onc's office.


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Mary Colleen:

I know of one person who was receiving radiation for cancer of the esophagus, a pretty tough guy with plenty of willpower, who became unable to eat or drink because of the taste ("mixture of turpentine and lye") as well as pain. He had a feeding tube inserted through his abdomen which he used for a while, until able to eat normally. From his description it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't noticeable under his clothing, and it kept him nourished through this phase of his treatment. Here's an article with a good description and photos:

http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/den ... eeding.htm

Hopefully your husband's problem can be resolved without resorting to this, but it's something to keep in mind.

Best wishes to you both. Aloha,


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Thanks all. I have a call in to the Onc's office, but had to leave a voice message. I am hoping that they will call back today, but at this point, I doubt we will be seen until Tuesday.

I made my husband get on the scale this morning before I left for work, and was very suprised and upset to see that he had lost 17 pounds in perhaps 3 weeks. For the first time in 25 years marriage, I didn't try to persuade him to let me call the Dr. for him, I just told him we were doing it, and he didn't resist.

If we can just get over this hump, I'm sure things will improve - clean recent CT makes me think/hope things can't be too bad!


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Hi MC,

I'm sorry to hear your hubby has stopped eating. It's horribly frustrating.

Check if he has thrush in his mouth or his throat. Bill had that long before we realized it. Everything tasted horrible and made him feel sick. Unchecked, it turned into a nasty infection. Check if there's any kind of coating on his tongue or in his mouth. Knowing what I know now, if you do think that's what he has, page the doctor and get him to call in a prescription so he can start eating again(not the liquid though, it takes ages to work -- the pills that look like a triangle shape).

Take care -- thinking of you,

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My father had significant appetite problems and fatigue issues for quite a while.

Especially given the recent WBR, you may want to ask the doc about getting him on a steroid such as decadron. The its primarily used to reduce swelling (and is often prescribed after WBR to reduce brain swelling), many people, my father included had a marked increase in appetite for the weeks he was using it (2 to 4 mg daily). Long term heavy use of decadroin can apparently get complicated, but in the weeks to months range, dec might be the answer.

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