Appetite loss

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I am now seven months post pelvic radiotherapy following total hysterectomy.

I am finding that I am still dealing with constipation which partly is likely due to my being on co-codamol for chronic pain associated with arthritis. I have decreased my tablets by 25%.and working on increasing my fibre.

However, I am also finding that my appetite is low. My oncologist says that this isn’t unusual post radiotherapy so I am hanging in there. Wondering if others have had similar issues 

  • Hi Muse

    I also had pelvic radiotherapy after my hysterectomy. I completed the radiotherapy in September 2022. I still have effects and you are not alone. 

    For a good year I had tummy troubles but mine were diarrhoea rather than constipation. I also developed some food intolerances. It's probably only in the last couple of months that I would say things are getting back to normal- or a new normal that I can deal with. Some days I don't have much appetite and I still get episodes of fatigue. 

    I am now at the stage of reintroducing foods and to be honest the foods I eat and the keeping to a routine, both with meals and using the toilet seem to keep it all under control. 

    I find that sharp tasting foods can be more palatable and things like lemon juice in sparkling water can work. I keep with a routine involving a walk each day and this helps too. Fibre is a tricky one still for me and although I can now have most fruit and veg, I still need to think about the amount of it I have. Too much fibre can set off my tummy, that in turn makes me feel more nauseous and generally miserable. 

    I have taken co codamol before- not related to cancer- and it also has a constipating effect for me. I wonder if talking through your pain management with your doctor would help- to see if an alteration in medication could be worth trying. Also maybe discuss whether fybogel or similar could help. 

    Are you drinking enough? I found that nausea would sometimes put me off drinking as much as I would normally- I found sipping water throughout the day sometimes better than bigger drinks. It might help with the constipation.

    I think 7 months is not long really and I was still pretty rough then, I was eating a limited diet, anxious about what I was able to eat when out and about and was still working out what I could eat. In the end I had help from my CNS and I kept a food and toilet chart and using this we were able to identify things that I could not tolerate. I found with me the diarrhoea in particular would make me feel generally nauseous and anxious about eating. 

    I would hang in there, talk to your doctor ( ask about a Late effects clinic if your symptoms don't settle) and hopefully if your experiences are anything like mine you will see an improvement over the next few months. 

    I hope things begin to settle soon for you.

    Jane

           

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm

  • Hi Jane, does it vary to how many radiotherapy sessions are needed and we're yours external?

  • I had 25 sessions of external beam radiotherapy. With pelvic radiotherapy you are prescribed a dose from the oncologist - I think mine was 45 gyn- and it is too damaging to have in one dose so that is why they divide it into smaller amounts. There are different doses for different cancers so I can only talk about what I had for endometrial cancer.

    I had it in 2 places- top of the vagina and where womb was and also aimed at the lymph nodes. They usually do it in these places as that is where most local recurrences happen. 

    I didn't have brachytherapy as there was not cancer in my cervix. I believe that internal radiotherapy has less side effects.

    Some people have less side effects than others and for most people they do seem to settle within a few weeks of radiotherapy ending. Some people however do experience Late effects. Sometimes these diminish with time and for some these can continue. 

    With radiotherapy they are trying to kill the cancer cells by damaging the DNA. The radiotherapy is planned to try to limit any damage to healthy cells, the hope is that in time the healthy cells will recover whilst the cancer cells are killed. 

    Jane

           

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm