Cachexia

From cancer.net

Weight Loss

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:

Fatigue

Weakness

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.

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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.

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Image Provided by: Quality of Life in ONCOLOGY Resource Centre

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?

62 thoughts on “Cachexia

  1. First of all I want to thank Gary for making sure you eat. It is a hard and often thankless task being the one who is ensuring that the sufferer is taking nourishment. Second, this research into Cachexia is extremely interesting. I had never stopped to think of tumours as being calorie gobblers before. But it does make sense. I will take time to read the article thoroughly. My father had no appetite when he was ill and I often wondered if he was anorexic. Perhaps that was a factor too … he was certainly resistant to my mother’s efforts to keep him fed. Being informed is, of course a good thing but you strike a chord when you say you are not sure how to process the information. Sometimes new knowledge brings with it new fears and worries. For now I hope you can focus on counting the days to the start of your radiation treatment and the hope that this will bring some respite from your agonising pain. I am certainly cheerleading that notion from the sidelines. I hope the rain has abated a little today and that the sun might deign to put his hat on. He is shining here so if you are in a dull day, shut your eyes and imagine the warmth and radiant glow that we have here. And me waving fervently from my place in France. Waving and shouting you on 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    • Osyth, I found this very interesting and it certainly does concern me. At this time, my body looks horrible and I look anorexic. I let this information get to me for awhile, but as you have indicated I am focusing on my upcoming procedure on Friday and next weeks radiation to help in relieving this extreme pain that I have been experiencing for way to long. Still no sunshine here, just more storms – maybe tomorrow? Thanks dear Osyth for the waving and shouting, I have a big smile! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, that is correct about muscle and fatty tissue loss. I spent years caring for cancer patients in hospitals and my own cancer at home. I had Cachexia too and it doesn’t have to mean you are wasting away forever. There are many factors involved in Cachexia or the “Wasting” phenomena such as: type of tumor (differentiated or non-differentiated), where the tumor initiated in the body, your own history of metabolism, level of pain (the stress of pain increases metabolism greatly because your heart rate, breathing, and your body’s natural immune response is much higher, also fear, anxiety, reduced appetite). All of this uses up so many calories that your body then turns to stored calories causing weight loss). I believe that Cachexia is another mechanism in the body to get rid of the cancer by starving it. There are cancer treatments that, in away, try to starve cancer cells by various methods: Invasive and non-invasive targeted therapy, for example. If I knew where your cancer originated and the medical name of the type of cancer, I might be able to give you more information. I have worked in several Cancer facility hospitals in the past and most recently at Emory University’s Winship Cancer institute, Clinical Research, although I am retired now. K. D.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. High protein and nutrient smoothies were a godsend for Don when he couldnt eat. When the pain is under control, you will be able to move more and use more muscles. One step at a time. Sending love and light 💛🙏💛

    Liked by 2 people

    • Val, I use to have a smoothie every morning for years and years and just got out of the habit. I need to start back into that habit. And I do want to move more and go to the gym and do some workouts – I miss that a lot. Thanks, I appreciate you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My thyroid cancer was advanced at stage 4 when I was diagnosed in 2005. However, I had not lost any weight at all, and apart from a lump in the front of my neck, had no symptoms. I’ve only lost weight since I’ve had 30 radiotherapy treatments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was expected to lose some weight after my surgery in January. I did, and I just kept losing weight. I eat well and am do not move much, because of the pain I am experiencing. I am hoping once the pain is relieved, I will start putting pounds back on. Thanks Stevie! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my Terry, this is a lot of information to process. Thank you for all the insight, it is incredibly interesting. You my friend…try take one day at a time. There is so much going on, you are tired, rest your mind a bit. Next week with the radiation treatment, I am hoping and praying it works it’s magic in all ways. Hugs 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, lots to process and think about. I let this information get to me for awhile, but I did not dwell on it too long. I need to focus on relieving this pain and moving beyond – there is much to come in this battle. Thank you Lynne, as always your support is important. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My situation is completely different from yours and yet I am having a similar phenomenon. I have a muscle disease and have maintained the same weight for the 12 year I have had the disease. But recently I have lost 20 lbs. my doctor said that my muscles and body looked catabolic and were wasting. BUT things have been stressful in the last 6 months. I have not been sleeping well. I have been in horrible pain. I have not been as mobile due to the pain. I have not been eating nearly as much as I was 6 months ago because I am too tired to or have loss of appetite. AND my stress levels and anxiety are through the roof. So it is hard to say for me, is it all of this combined, or just the muscle disease.
    So when you wrote about this and I read the article I thought, how conflicting. Because how do you really know what is contributing or if ALL is contributing.
    Sending love to you

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is difficult and I am sorry you are experiencing these symptoms as well. Maybe all the above, the pain, stress, not moving much, difficulty with appetite are all factors. I hope it all becomes better for you soon. And thank you for stopping by to read and comment. 🙂

      Like

      • Gosh Im sorry. I reread what I wrote and it makes it look like i was turning the attention from you to me and making your post about me. I promise you that was not my intention at all. I was just applying what I was told and comparing it to what you were told and wondering if there were many contributors to both of our weight loss. Thinking of you, sorry i rambled about myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Even though the article was fascinating and I wanted to show my support, it was tough to hit “like” on this post. Many of the comments were interesting as well, especially those that added information. I could have “liked” many more than I did, but I’ve been told that liking my way down the comments can be annoying to the owner of the blog.

    My heart goes out to everyone who commented that they were suffering similar effects, and my prayers to each of you.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand about the ‘Like’ button: for me it indicates the reader read my post and appreciates my words – both good and bad. There are many of us suffering similarly and differently – prayers to everyone. Happy day to you my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh dear Terry, I’m so sorry that you’re having to face one more thing in this overwhelming fight that you’re having with the Cancer but I’m very glad to hear about the wonderful care Gary is giving you. Stay strong my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda, I am extremely fortunate to have Gary in my life, he is amazing. I have my days of weakness, but overall I continue to stay positive and strong. Thanks for stopping by – happy day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kathryn for your continued support as I continue this journey. Gary is amazing and I am fortunate to have him here in my life. Thank you for reading and commenting, as always I appreciate you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve read most all to understand your pain. I am sorry that you are going through this and thankful you don’t have to do this alone. Did your mother ever tell you “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR”, well I know that you and I and everyone that has or had cancer never wished for it. I can still hear my bother’s mother saying that when I was little. I wish for a cure for cancer and it’s coming but till it does we suffer. I read where you practiced smiling and I have done that too. I mentally must tell myself to smile so I don’t make someone else suffer MY pain with me. I am proud to know you and Gary too. Life is NOT a box of chocolates….it’s HARD candy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have heard about how cancer doesn’t only try to kill you good cells, it takes all your energy and calories…you may have herd the phrase, cancer is eating me…..and it certainly is robbing you of your energy…what about pot?? I have seen people do well on small amounts of pot, at least helped them get some of there appetite back….may even help with your pain?? just a thought, of course I would run it by the MD’s, you wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your treatment….also they make it in a pill Marinol….just a thought…hope the next stage of your treatment gives you some relief….xxXXxxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have had one doctor suggest pot, but honestly I am not interested in it. I do take medication that helps to increase my appetite. Tomorrow is a big day, I am hoping this next procedure will help to reduce my pain. Thanks kat, I always appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Happy Thursday! 🙂

      Like

  11. I always wondered what combination of reasons made cancer patients lose so much weight and now I know. You are so brave to share this with the world especially when I knew you took pride in being fit and athletic. I am curious about why you are reluctant to try medical marijuana but accept your desire to be in control. Love K x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am having a difficult time right now with my appetite, now that I have started radiation. I do eat, even when I do not feel like it. I know it is important for me to gain some weight. Thanks you for understanding. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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