Sickness and poor appetite

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Anti-sickness medication (anti-emetics) should only be prescribed when the causes of the nausea and vomiting is known. Nausea in cancer patients can be caused either by the disease itself or drugs prescribed to treat the cancer.

Cancer related causes:

Treatment related causes:

Other factors which can add to the risks of nausea (particularly after surgery or during chemotherapy):


Treatments and advice:

Remove the causes. First and foremost. Always mention poor appetite and sickness to the supervising medical team.

General lifestyle tips if feeling sick or have a poor appetite:

Eating with a poor appetite or feeling sick:

Drug therapy. If nausea is severe and associated with vomiting medications are given intravenously (into a vein). Alternatively, in this situation they can be injected or infused into the fat under the skin (subcutaneously) either as a single injection or   infused slowly via an infusion pump. If patients are not vomiting oral tablets are usually suitable. There are also a variety of other routes of administration ranging from suppository (inserted into the back passage) and transdermally (a plaster stuck to the skin), Buccally (a tablet left between the lip and gum - like the cowboy used to chew tobacco). Listed below are the commonly used anti-sickness medications used in patients with cancer.


Other therapies - Many patients obtain a great deal of benefit from supportive and complementary therapies. This may be because they genuinely have a direct benefit or they have psychological benefit (placebo). Either way, if patients have a benefit and do not experience side effect from them, then they have useful role. Listed below are the more commonly available remedies which have been used in patients with cancer.

Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.

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