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Help with cancer anorexia cachexia


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I'm a caretaker for my 81 yr. old uncle who was diagnosed yesterday with stage 4 lung cancer.  He was told he has 6 months to live if he doesn't die before that from pneumonia.  He is ok with this.  He has had an extremely full life.  We are simply looking for ways to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible.

He can taste almost nothing.  Interestingly, what he CAN taste has quite bland flavors (e.g. vanilla ice cream & Ensure, canned peaches, clam chowder).  Can anyone help me with ideas of what might have some taste for him?  I do understand that this issue may vary per patient.

This is my first post.  Please forgive me if this topic has been raised before.  I looked through the forum with the tags written above, but didn't find anything.

Thank you,


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Hi  Lisa and welcome here! I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's prognosis. He's fortunate to have you for a caregiver. I don't have suggestions for specific foods. I do have two suggestions that you might have already considered. First, since he's been told he has less than 6 months to live, he's eligible for hospice. Hospice has a wonderful array of services that would help with what your wanting--to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible. Second is a nutritionist, who might have ideas about what foods might be appealing. I'm not sure if hospice (which is generally paid for by Medicare) covers nutritionists, but it might. Or otherwise his insurance might cover a consultation if he had a phyician referral.

Keep posting and asking questions and telling us what support you need from us. This is a good place to get info and upport. Others will probably chime in on the food issue.

My thoughts are with you and your uncle.


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Hi Lisa, I'm happy you have found Lungevity's discussion forums, welcome!

Loss of appetite, especially due to lack of taste, is a tough one.  My mom's taste was affected during her last cancer treatments and she wasn't interested in eating much.  So I would whip up some smoothies for her to make sure she was getting some nutrition.  If he likes ensure, you can make a smoothie with that or get a vanilla protein powder.  Then you can add whatever you like, depending on what he feels like eating.  I live on smoothies and here is what I do:  I always add baby spinach - it makes the smoothie look gross but you can't taste the spinach and it adds a ton of nutritional value.  You can start with just a little bit of spinach and work your way up.  I typically add about a cup of compacted spinach to a 16 ounce smoothie.  I also add various types of berries (this time of year, I use frozen berries) or peanut butter and always a banana (I like a thicker smoothie).  I sometimes add chia seeds if I need more fiber.  Finally, I am lactose intolerant so I use almond milk instead of cow milk.  For the liquid, you could use the ensure drink, water, juice, etc.  There are tons of recipes online.  I personally use a Ninja blender because it chops everything very fine, but I've also used the blender cups on a regular blender and it works okay too.

My mom's taste changed pretty regularly and even if she didn't feel like eating anything, I could still get her to drink a smoothie.  The nice thing with them is that they can be easily made with whatever sounds good that day.

Hope this helps a bit.

Take care,


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You've received very good suggestions from Bridget and Steff. 

My challenge with appetite surfaced while receiving chemotherapy.  It had an adverse effect on my taste buds and consequently my appetite.  But, from your description, your uncle is not receiving treatment.  Therefore, I believe hospice care and a hospice provided dietitian is the best solution.

Stay the course.



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Thank you to all for the suggestions.  We tried a smoothie, but it came back up.  Disappointing.  That's what worked for me some years ago after transplant when one of my immunosuppressants took my appetite away.  There was another medication that changed the taste of food too, so I do understand the dilemma.  In fact, the reason I thought to contact a lung cancer forum is because I take part of 2 kidney-pancreas forums.  It really does help to reach out to people who have lived through a given challenge.

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