Losing Weight During Cancer Treatment

Author: The Tracey Birnhak Nutritional Counseling Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Reviewed: August 22, 2019

Question:

Is it okay if I lose weight during my cancer treatment?

Answer:

Losing weight during cancer treatment is not encouraged, even if you are overweight. If you lose weight during treatment, it means you are not getting enough calories. When you don't get enough calories, you are also not getting enough protein, vitamins and minerals. This will affect your strength and energy level, as well as your ability to tolerate the treatment. It may also affect your response to treatment and slow your recovery. For some people who lose weight during treatment, The doses of cancer medicines you are receiving need to be adjusted or the radiation therapy plan redone to be effective.

Cancer treatment can often increase your nutritional needs. In other words, you may need more calories or protein to meet your body's needs. During your treatment, it is important to maintain your weight by eating enough calories and nutrients. If you are losing weight on treatment, ask to speak to a Registered Dietician to help identify issues and find ways to increase the calories you are getting.

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