From cancer.net –
Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2016
Weight loss is common among people with cancer. It is often the first noticeable sign of the disease.
As many as 40% of people report unexplained weight loss when first diagnosed with cancer. And up to 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia. Cachexia is also called wasting. Wasting is the combination of weight loss and muscle loss.
Other symptoms often accompany weight loss and wasting:
Loss of energy
Inability to perform everyday tasks
I am certainly experiencing wasting. Between the 10+ pain I experience and the pain medications, I am fatigued and weak, have no energy and honestly having issues performing everyday tasks. My pain that has existed since my surgery in January, has increased and spread to the point I am having troubles walking. Because of this my activity level is near zero.
You may remember last month in my post ‘My Shell‘, I mentioned I lost 30 lbs.
I now have lost 38 lbs.
I have no muscle mass and my appetite is not good. I do eat every 2-3 hours and the food I eat is healthy. Occasionally, I will eat ice cream, but usually I do not eat sweets. But there are times when I do not want to eat, but I do anyway, trust me – Gary makes sure I eat – thank you Gary.
I informed you yesterday that I will start radiation treatments Monday of next week. Last week when I had my consultation with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. M., I asked him about my weight loss. He responded the tumors have a high metabolism and are burning lots of calories. I had never heard this and found it interesting. Could he be right and is this the reason for my continued weight loss?
Upon some research, I found an interesting article ‘Why Do Cancer Patients Waste Away? Research Finds New Clues’ that includes information about Cachexia. Click the article name link if you are interested in reading the entire article.
From that article, here is some important information –
A third of cancer patients die from a wasting syndrome. With new hints, researchers are closing in on what causes it and how to slow it down in order to give cancer patients more time to fight.
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. That view doesn’t account for the fact that small tumors can also cause wasting.
I am unsure how to process this information. Do I have cachexia and am I wasting away?