Consult with the patient's physician before changing the diet to an alternative diet, such as macrobiotic diet. Some diets may not provide the type of nutrients that the patient needs for energy requirements.
Loss of appetite and progressive decrease in food intake are among the most frequent and distressing symptoms encountered by advanced cancer patients and their family members.
There is a very strong association between eating and family members' expression of love and concern. When patients change their usual eating patterns, family members become very upset and fear that death is approaching.
Decline in eating is expected in advanced cancer patients.
Increased food or fluid intake may not make patients feel better or live longer.
Physical assessment and history may reveal treatable conditions that have resulted in changes in eating patterns.
Family members may need support and information about why their loved one is unable to eat. Some family members interpret the lack of eating as rejection of their efforts to comfort the patient.
Holden, C. (1993). Nutrition and hydration in the terminally ill cancer patient: The nurse's role in helping patients and families cope. The Hospice Journal, 9(2-3), 15-35.
Kaye, P. (1990). Symptom Control in Hospice and Palliative Care. Essex, CT: Hospice Education Institute.
National Cancer Institute. (1986). Eating Hints. NCI Publication No. 86-2079, Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Service.
Nelson, K.A., Walsh, D., & Sheehan, F.A. (1994). The cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 12(1), 213-225.
Storey, P. (1994). Primer of Palliative Care. The Academy of Hospice Physicians, Gainesville, FL, pp. 21-23.