Ask the Doctor
March 27, 2012
Why do people diagnosed with cancer lose weight?

Tue, Mar 27. 2012

Dear Doc,

Why do people who have been diagnosed with cancer lose so much weight?{{more}}


Dear Samantha,

Weight loss associated with cancer generally presents when the cancer has been well established and begins to use up significant amount of the body’s nutrients.

Cancer cells have the characteristics of growing out of control. They multiply and grow faster, which involves using a significant amount of energy. The energy and nutrients for growth are generally more than the person can supply with regular meals and therefore the fats and muscles are broken-down to supply the needed energy hence the loss of size and weight. We must also remember that many, upon receiving news of being diagnosed with cancer can lose appetite due to the psychological stress and thus eat less.

It is of significant importance to note that cancer treatment itself can be harsh on the body and that persons who withstand the rigors are usually the ones with the better reserves. It lends to the reasoning that it is important that good nutrition be maintained to ensure that the body is well nourished and the immune system be optimum to fight diseases when on cancer treatment.

The psychological state of the individual is a significant factor. We must try always to be positive in the presence of cancer victims and give support. It is in situations of the feeling of no hope that many stop eating and maintaining good general health, resulting in further weakening of the immune system.


SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Phone: 526-7036