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What is the treatment for loss of appetite?

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Doctors may prescribe medications such as megestrol acetate, anti-depressants, prednisone and dronabinol to treat appetite loss, explains the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Taking steps to make food more palatable, such as eating protein-rich foods at room temperature and arranging food in a visually pleasing way, may also help.

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Megestrol acetate is a medication that supplies the hormone progesterone, promoting an increase in appetite and weight gain, states the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Steroids such as prednisone can also boost appetite and help with symptoms contributing to the appetite loss, such as nausea, pain and weakness. However, steroids may produce severe side effects and should not be taken for extended periods of time. Dronabinol is a laboratory-produced cannabinoid that may also be useful in stimulating appetite.

Appetite loss is especially a common concern in cancer patients for a variety of reasons, according to ASCO. Certain forms of cancer alter the functioning of a person's metabolism, resulting in a change in appetite, while others lead to enlargement of the spleen, which then creates a false sense of fullness if the organ presses on the stomach. Many side effects of cancer treatment, such as mouth sores, depression, fatigue, and changes in smell and taste, can also lead to a reduced appetite. Managing these side effects can help make food more appealing.

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