Cancer patients can increase their appetites quickly by taking medications to improve their appetites and help food to move through the intestines. Examples of these medications include megastrol acetate (Megace), metoclopramide (Reglan) and dronabinol (Marinol), notes Cancer.net.
Megace is a synthetic female hormone used to stimulate the appetite and treat breast cancer. It belongs to the progesterone group of hormones and was approved by the FDA in 1993, notes MedicineNet.
Reglan increases contractions in the upper digestive tract and therefore enables the stomach to empty into the intestines at a quicker rate. Reglan must be taken 30 minutes before eating and must never be taken for longer than 12 weeks or in larger doses than recommended, states Drugs.com.
Marinol is a synthetic form of marijuana and is usually taken before lunch and dinner to stimulate the appetite. Cancer patients can also take Marinol before chemotherapy to prevent nausea and vomiting. It can be habit-forming and should never be shared with another person, particularly if that person has a history of drug addition, notes Drugs.com.
Steroids can also be used to increase a cancer patient's appetite but has some serious side effects and can only be used for a short period of time. If a patient is feeling strong enough, 20 minutes of light exercise before mealtimes can stimulate the appetite too and help maintain muscle mass, explains Cancer.net.