Cancer linked to weight loss
Is weight loss a sign of cancer?
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Ms. Swati Kapoor
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Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom. The signs and symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the organs or tissues. If a cancer has spread (metastasized), signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body. Now Half of all cancer patients suffer from a wasting syndrome called cachexia. Affected patients lose weight, including muscle, no matter how much they eat. The wasting is the immediate cause of about a third of all cancer deaths.Those stark numbers have spurred research into what exactly causes cachexia in patients with cancer and how it might be avoided. Until recently, doctors thought cancer-associated cachexia was a sign of an energy-hungry tumor taking food from healthy cells.What this means that in cancer basically a group of cells deviate from normal regulation and start multiplying without any inhibition.It was thought that this uncontrolled growth of cells utilised more energy than consumed and led to weightloss. But this view doesn’t account for the fact that small tumors can also cause wasting and hence was discarded. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s called an unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (swallowing tube), or lung. As many as 40% of people with cancer report unexplained weight loss at the time of diagnosis, and up to 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia, or wasting, which is the combination of weight loss and muscle mass loss as explained above. Weight loss and muscle wasting also often come with fatigue, weakness, loss of energy,and an inability to perform everyday tasks. People experiencing cachexia often cannot manage treatments well and may experience more intense symptoms. Some of the proposed causes of weight loss in cancer could be --> Changes to the immune system or metabolism, which is the process of the body breaking down food and turning it into energy --> Nausea and vomiting --> Constipation --> Mouth sores --> Difficulty swallowing --> Loss of taste --> Depression --> Pain Weight loss in cancer patients is also supplemented by its treatment. Weight loss after chemotherapy is associated with side effects of chemo that can sometimes interfere with your ability to eat or drink and affect your ability to maintain your healthy weight. So if you are a patient of cancer and are experiencing sudden unusual weight loss, it is perfectly normal.
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