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For Those Experiencing Cancer-Induced Weight Loss

Cancer itself or it’s treatments can greatly alter how your body uses the food you eat. Often times your energy needs increase and your food intake decreases due to a poor appetite or other symptoms. This results in weight loss. Even if you are eating a normal amount of food, your body might not be using the nutrients in your food properly or it may be burning energy faster than usual.

No matter what the cause, it is essential that unintentional, rapid weight loss is addressed as it has a negative impact on recovery. The most important thing you can do during cancer and weight loss is to eat little and often, snack frequently and introduce calories where ever possible.

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CHECK YOUR WEIGHT

One of the most important things you can do is monitor your weight.

To track your weight you should weigh yourself weekly.  Ideally this should be done on the same day each week, at the same time of day and on the same weighing scales.  This is to make sure that all measurements are comparable.  You should weigh yourself first thing in the morning in minimal clothing, after you have emptied your bladder.

 

PROBLEMS WHICH MAY AFFECT EATING

Cancer and cancer treatments have different effects on everybody. The side effects can vary from person to person and not everybody will experience them. Chemotherapy can result in many of the side effects discussed below. Radiation therapy usually affects the area being treated e.g. receiving treatment to the head and neck may result in difficulty eating and swallowing. Surgery to remove a tumour can result in problems eating and digesting a normal diet. For some people tube feeding may be necessary post-surgery.

 

POOR APPETITE

A change in appetite is very common during cancer treatment. Your favourite foods may no longer appeal to you, you may have a reduced appetite or you may not want to eat at all. Read more

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TIREDNESS

Fighting cancer and undergoing cancer treatments can often drain your energy and leave you feeling tired and fatigued. It can be due to a variety of reasons. Read more

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NAUSEA AND VOMITING

Nausea is when you feel sick, have an unpleasant feeling in your stomach or throat, feel dizzy, clammy and don’t want to eat. Vomiting is actually being sick or throwing up. The most common cause of these symptoms is chemotherapy. Read more

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DIARRHOEA

Various cancer treatments can cause diarrhoea by irritating the lining of your digestive system. Medications and drugs may also cause diarrhoea so discuss these with your doctor. The tumour itself can also stimulate diarrhoea in certain gut cancers. Read more

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CONSTIPATION

Chemotherapy may interfere with the nerve supply to the bowel that can cause constipation. Anti-sickness drugs and painkillers can make this worse. Surgery to the stomach or bowel may result in constipation due to problems pushing stool out. Read more

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INDIGESTION AND REFLUX

Some chemotherapy or biological therapy drugs used to treat cancer can cause indigestion. Read more

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SORE MOUTH

Some anti-cancer drugs may result in sores forming in the mouth or mouth pain. Treatments to the head and neck area often result in a sore mouth and it can make eating and swallowing quite difficult. Read more

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DRY MOUTH

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage salivary glands and thicken saliva or reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. This results in a dry mouth. This makes it a lot more difficult to eat and enjoy food. Read more

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DIFFICULTY SWALLOWING

Foods and thin liquids may cause coughing, choking or it may feel as though there is food caught in your throat. This can be caused by the cancer itself or by head and neck radiotherapy. Read more

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TASTE AND SMELL CHANGES

Cancer and cancer treatments can greatly affect your taste and smell. Foods that once appealed to you may no longer be desired. Your sensitivity to smells may increase and your taste may decrease.. Read more

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COMMON QUESTIONS

Will Sugar Fuel My Cancer? Is Following a High Protein, High Calorie Diet Bad for My Health? Read more

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