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radiation and weight loss (?)

Posts: 6
Joined: Feb 2013

Have had rather massive weight loss, in the area of near-30 lbs. (2 1/2 stone, as they say in UK), after bout with chemo and radiation therapy, six weeks ending last April. My oncologist just has had me in for a follow-up petCT scan, the results of which apparently I have to wait about a couple of weeks for.  My doctor's assistant says the wait it because my doctor has to consult with others so to be finally conclusive about the results.  I am more than anxious about this whole thing, but I worry more about great weight loss than anything else.  Was this caused by the cancer OR by the treatments, or both??

lp1964's picture
Posts: 1211
Joined: Jun 2013

Hi, I'm Laz, a 48 year old rectal cancer patient And went through the same treatment like you recently. If you kept your appetite and didnt change your diet dramatically during the treatment the weight loss is probably contributed to your illness. But most of the time patients start eating healthier with less calories, lose appetite or have diarrhea and that causes weight loss.

I lost 14 pounds (6kg) in the last couple of months. I ate a lot, but lot less calorie vegetarian diet, fish, eggs, no dairy, no sweets, less carbs. So my weight loss was for the good reasons. Also depends of your original weight and what proportion of the lost weight is to that.

All in all we have to have good appetite, but eat the right things.

Good luck to you and let us know how it went.


mp327's picture
Posts: 4146
Joined: Jan 2010

I experienced a small weight loss prior to my diagnosis and weighed about 100 pounds at that time, down from 105.  During treatment, my weight dipped to 92 pounds, at which point my oncologist became very concerned.  I think the initial weight loss was due to the cancer and perhaps not feeling well, which led to a lack of appetite.  The drop from 100 to 92 pounds was most likely due to 1) stress 2) treatment.  I am almost 5 years post-treatment and my weight has remained around 100 pounds, give or take a couple of pounds.  Like you, sometimes it concerns me because I have a very healthy appetite.  I also have a huge sweet tooth (bad, I know!) and never pass up a sweet treat.  I truly think that, at least in my case, my body just doesn't absorb food, nutrients (and calories) like it used to.  If you are concerned enough about your inability to gain back some weight, perhaps a consult with a dietician/nutritionist would be a good idea.

I wish you all good results on your PET scan! 

Posts: 374
Joined: Jan 2011

I, too, lost about 30 lbs. although I did maintain a great appetite for the most part.  Then about 10 months after treatment, with little hormone function left, I regained it all. I followed a modified Gerson Therapy method before and during treatment, so eating THAT clean certainly attributed to most of the the weight loss.  My radiation onc also said that the radiation really boosts your metabolism during treatment as well, adding to even more weight loss and it takes the radiation a few weeks to totally be eliminated from your body.  My treatment ended in January of 2011 and I began to really gain it back by the end of 2011.




Posts: 316
Joined: May 2013

I lost 5 lbs. prior to treatment just from worrying and then another 10-15 during treatment from diarrhea, being on a low-residue diet and having no appetite.  I really thought that as soon as treatments ended (mid-March) and I started eating good again, I'd gain but that didn't happen. Weighing 115-120 lbs. prior to diagnosis, this was a substantial loss for me.  I have not gained more than a pound or 2 back.  I seem to be the only one worried about this though, the doctors (well, really the nurses) weigh me and never say anything about it and aren't concerned when I bring it up.  I've had a PET/CT, pelvic & abdominal MRI, DREs, anoscope and colonoscopy and all are clear.  So I guess it's just a matter of time until I put a little weight back on.  I've decided to quit worrying about it -  think it's probably just from my body consuming all the energy to fight the cancer and then recover from the treatments. 

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