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Managing Chronic Pain and Appetite Loss in Appendix Cancer Patients

August 3, 2023

Also called appendiceal cancer, appendix cancer affects about one or two people per million. People need to know how to help themselves or a loved one with this type of cancer.


Common Effects of Appendix Cancer


Bloating, indigestion, side pain, and new hernias are common symptoms of appendix cancer. Women may also develop ovarian masses. Appendiceal cancer can come with some unpleasant effects, and two common issues are decreased appetite and pain. Another common effect is appendicitis. Appendix cancer can cause a mucin buildup in the appendix, leading to a rupture. Mucin buildup in the abdomen from the rupture can lead to pseudomyxoma peritonei. Although treating it can be challenging, modern approaches may be effective.


Strategies for Chronic Pain Management of Appendiceal Cancer


Today, there are several ways to manage chronic pain from cancer. These are the most common strategies:


  • Treating the source of pain
  • Disrupting the brain’s pain signals
  • Altering pain perception


Although opioids are well-known painkillers, they are not the only solution. Some antidepressants and anti-seizure medications may help treat certain types of pain. There are also pain medications specifically designed to reduce nerve pain. Depending on the type of medication, dependence and side effects may be patient concerns about taking prescription drugs.


There are also some natural or alternative methods for treating pain. Some patients may be unable to afford certain alternative treatments like acupuncture. Many natural or alternative treatments are used to supplement a chronic pain management strategy that involves prescription drugs. These are some examples of additional treatments that may help reduce pain:


  • Applying hot or cold packs
  • Visualization and imagery
  • Counseling
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • Physical therapy


Nutrition is also important for an overall pain management strategy. For example, some foods may exacerbate unpleasant abdominal symptoms. Avoiding those may help reduce pain.


Maintaining Proper Nutrition and Combatting Decreased Appetite


If you lack appetite, it may come from unpleasant digestive problems or fatigue. Also, it may be a side effect of appendix cancer treatment or may occur because of other treatment-related side effects. When you associate abdominal pain with food, it can worsen your lack of appetite. These are some helpful ways to fight a loss of appetite:


  • Eat healthy, high-nutrient foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay active


Professionals can recommend an appropriate diet and exercise plan based on your unique medical history and needs. People with a poor appetite are more prone to dehydration, so water consumption is vital. Staying active is important since movement stimulates your appetite.


Medications that prevent nausea may be helpful if you have a decreased appetite from feeling nauseous. Today, there are also appetite stimulants. They may be recommended when unintended weight loss continues despite other efforts.


How Family Members and Caregivers Can Help


Caregivers or family members can help loved ones manage pain and fight appetite loss. Family members sometimes may not know how they can effectively help. Patients often need reminders and physical help since they experience fatigue, forgetfulness, and other effects from cancer or treatment. If you have a loved one with appendiceal cancer, these are some ways you can help:


  • Encouraging exercise and water consumption
  • Providing medication reminders
  • Offering to accompany a loved one during appointments
  • Preparing meals that fit nutritional needs
  • Assistance with hot packs or massages as needed
  • Buying assistive devices, pillows, or recommended items that improve comfort

Addressing Possible Complications of Appendix Cancer


The main complication of appendiceal cancer is appendicitis, that leads to a rupture. There are also common complications of appendix cancer treatment. These are some examples:


  • Fatigue
  • Increased infection risk34
  • Bleeding
  • Hair loss
  • Loose bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin problems
  • Upset stomach


Surgery to remove the appendix is a common solution to prevent appendicitis. This may be the only treatment for low-grade appendiceal cancer for some patients. A doctor may recommend medications or treatments to help manage specific side effects. Treatment solutions may vary based on individual health history or other existing health problems. Immediately notify your doctor if you notice any new or changing side effects.


Using clinical pathways, value-based care, patient growth, patient experience, and practice efficiency as core components, Verdi Oncology helps small, physician-owned practices boost efficiency and growth. Verdi Oncology’s innovative practice management solutions create a personalized patient experience that is vital for oncology practices.