Patients and families often ask questions about symptoms they notice. Here are some symptoms you may have.
You should not have to suffer very bad pain. Talk to your health care team if you are having pain.
Your oncologist may give you pain medication. You may get an opioid, like morphine. Your oncologist might also refer you to a specialist at the BC Cancer Pain & Symptom Management/Palliative Care Clinic. This is a team of specialists who can help you manage your pain and other symptoms.
When your health care team manages your pain as soon as it becomes a problem, you will feel better. You will also be more able to cope with cancer treatments and other challenges you may face.
Most people with advanced cancer will have fatigue at some point. As your cancer progresses, you may become more fatigued. You may not be able to do all of your normal activities.
It is ok to do less activity and to rest more often. Eventually, you might need to rest most of the time with very little activity.
Fatigue is also a common side effect of cancer treatment. You may feel weak from your treatments, your cancer or weight loss.
If you are feeling weak and are worried about it, talk to your health care team.
Cancer treatments can make you lose your appetite (desire to eat). Once the treatments finish, your appetite will usually get better.
Certain cancers can also make you lose your appetite.
If you have a poor appetite, eat:
- Small meals or snacks.
- Often during the day.
- Foods that you like.
There is no good evidence that sugar makes cancer grow. Do not worry about eating sugar, especially if you are not eating very much of anything else.
Try to drink 6-8 cups (1.5-2 litres) of fluid every day. Take small sips often. Fluids include:
- Herbal tea
- Sports drinks
- Broth or soups
- Liquid nutritional drinks such as Ensure®.
If you have nausea (feeling queasy) or are vomiting (throwing up), tell your health care team. They can help you control these symptoms.
For more information about eating when you do not have an appetite, visit the BC Cancer Nutrition website: www.bccancer.bc.ca/health-info/coping-with-cancer/nutrition-support
You might lose weight because of your cancer or cancer treatments. This can be very stressful. Talk to your health care team if you are worried.
In some cases, patients lose a lot of weight. They lose fat and muscle. This is called “cachexia” (ka-kek-sia). There are some treatments for cachexia but it is very difficult to reverse this type of weight loss.
Very rarely, patients may have cognitive problems, like confusion or trouble concentrating. This may be due to your cancer or the amount of certain chemicals in your blood. Talk to your health care team if you have any cognitive problems.