June 25, 2024

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Why does the patient increase appetite and weight after cancer spreading?

Why does the patient increase appetite and weight after cancer spreading?




Why does the patient increase appetite and weight after cancer spreading? A patient diagnosed advanced lung cancer with bone metastases, liver metastases, and brain metastases. It can be said that the cancer cells have hollowed out her body. Chemotherapy can only be used to delay the development of the tumor, and palliative treatment is used to minimize pain.

With the development of the disease and the gradual deepening of the treatment, the patient lost weight day by day, looking skinny. Later, the patient’s appetite actually improved, and he seemed to be more energetic than the others, but the family members were very worried, not knowing if this was a good thing.


Why does the patient increase appetite and weight after cancer spreading?



First. Some cancer patients end up starving to death

One-fifth of cancer patients die of malnutrition, or in layman’s terms, they starve to death. With the development of cancer, the patient’s appetite will get worse and worse.

For cancer patients, decreased appetite is one of the manifestations of worsening conditions. Generally speaking, the loss of appetite is caused by the following reasons:

1. Tumor directly caused

Some digestive tumors will directly affect the appetite of patients, such as: stomach cancer, esophageal cancer and so on. In addition, tumor host cells secrete endogenous cytokines, such as IL-1. Endogenous cytokines can act on the satiety center, leading to a decrease in appetite, and in severe cases, it can also cause symptoms such as anorexia, early satiety, and vomiting.

2. Nutrient deficiency

Lack of nutrients can also lead to loss of appetite. For example: lack of vitamin B1 will affect autonomic nervous function, weaken gastrointestinal motility and decrease appetite; lack of micronutrients such as zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper will cause loss of appetite and even change in taste .

3. Electrolyte disorders

Cancerous anemia and tumors can cause electrolyte disturbances and acid-base balance disorders, such as low potassium, low sodium, various acidosis, etc., which can lead to decreased appetite.

4. Psychological burden

The psychological burden of cancer patients is relatively heavy, and symptoms such as pain, constipation, anxiety, and depression often appear, which affect appetite and even lead to anorexia.

5. Side effects of treatment

Cancer treatment can have side effects. After taking some chemotherapeutics for cellular tumors, such as cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, etc., patients will experience adverse reactions such as nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal mucositis, changes in taste, and loss of appetite. During radiotherapy, if the digestive system is irradiated, it will also cause a decrease in appetite.


Second,  Why has the cancer spread and the patient’s appetite increased?

In some cancer patients, the cancer cells have spread, but instead of losing their appetite, they have also increased their weight. Why is this? Experts pointed out 3 reasons:

1. The treatment is effective

At present, there are many treatment methods for cancer. If the treatment is effective and the cancer cells are suppressed, the patient’s appetite will increase and the weight will also increase.

2. The patient has good physique

For people with good physique and good body resistance, they will generally not be attacked by viruses. Even if they have cancer, their symptoms will not be too serious. As a result, there are fewer symptoms of loss of appetite and lack of energy, and food intake will increase.

3. Even if some cancers spread, they have little impact on people

Less severe cancers have less impact on the body even if the cancer cells spread, such as thyroid cancer. The degree of malignancy of thyroid cancer is relatively low. If patients receive timely treatment, the survival rate for more than ten years can reach 70%, and it will not affect appetite and spirit.



Third. The appearance of these symptoms indicates that the cancer has spread

The reason why cancer is terrible is mainly because cancer cells can “metastasis” and spread to other places. Cancer “metastasis” refers to the process by which tumor cells leave the original lesion, enter blood vessels or lymphatic vessels, and re-form cancer cells in appropriate parts of the human body, and then grow new tumors.

As cancer cells continue to invade other tissues and organs, patients will experience a series of symptoms, such as rapid weight loss, anemia, loss of appetite, and so on. If cancer cells metastasize to the bones, it may cause bone pain; if cancer cells metastasize to the liver or brain, symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headache may occur.


Forth. After the cancer spreads, should we still treat it?

Generally speaking, after the cancer has spread, it is not suitable for active treatment, because the effect of active treatment is limited, but the side effects are obvious. However, an article on the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University showed that even if some cancers have metastasized, if the patient has a certain physical fitness, it can withstand the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and other therapies, and can also accept invasive treatments. Treatment measures, such as: testicular cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

1. Testicular cancer

Regardless of the metastasis and histological type, more than 80% of patients with metastatic testicular cancer can be cured and discharged from the hospital with combined chemotherapy. In addition, if the cancer recurs and chemotherapy is performed again, there is still a chance of cure.

2. Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Under the strong combination of chemotherapy, during the advanced stage, the cure rate of Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients can reach up to 80% after the strong combination of chemotherapy. If the cancer recurs, and chemotherapy is performed again, the chance of completely clearing the tumor is as high as 93%, and there is a 45% chance of survival for more than 20 years.


However, if some cancers metastasize, active treatment may not benefit much, such as pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, glioblastoma and other highly aggressive tumors.

All in all, the increased appetite of cancer patients can be said to be a good thing, and patients and their families do not need to worry too much. It should be noted that patients should not overeating, maintain a balanced nutrition, do not eat greasy food, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water. In addition, proper exercise can enhance physical fitness and reduce the side effects of treatment.


(source:internet, reference only)

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