Pancreatic cancer patients find it difficult to maintain weight. Byproducts released from the cancer cause many to lose their appetite or alter a patient’s sense of smell or taste. In addition, food may not be digested properly because the pancreas is not functioning correctly. Even if patients can continue to eat and digest food normally, pancreatic and other cancers release compounds into the bloodstream that break down muscle and fat, causing patients to lose weight and muscle mass, as well as feel fatigued.
The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has dietitians available to work in close contact with your care team to help you maintain good nutrition and maximize your health. Patients who come to us through our Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic meet with a dietitian automatically. Other patients may request our services, or be referred to a dietitian through their nurse or physician. For outpatients, our dietitians can coordinate appointments before or after physician visits, chemotherapy or radiation sessions.
Our dietitians can assess your needs and design a diet plan that best meets your needs, including supplementary insulin or pancreatic enzymes as needed. They also can help you alter the consistency, fiber content or fat content of foods to keep food palatable and prevent you from becoming malnourished.