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Why do cancers cause weight loss?


Dear Doc,

My neighbour was a well-built man and was strong like a lion. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and over the past four months he has lost so much weight that he looks like a different person. Why do cancers cause weight loss?{{more}}


Dear Gilbert,

A cancer is a competing entity which, like other cells in the body, requires energy to live and carry out its functions. The significant difference is that the cancer cells are doing everything faster than normal cells. The cancer cells do not rest and don’t die easily. Because of their amazing activity and appetite for energy, other parts of the body are denied energy and there is significant weight loss. Cancers are also very efficient at using energy; therefore when the patient increases intake of high energy food, it simply increases its rate of consumption.

Weight loss can also be evident when patients get depressed and reduce the food intake. Chemotherapy, used to treat cancers, can also induce weight loss.

Obvious weight loss is more evident in well advanced cancers. It is important that cancer be diagnosed early to prevent its further establishment at different locations, which in turn makes it difficult to treat.


SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 526-7036