“I had ignored the symptoms for a long time but finally I couldn’t manage them anymore. I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. During my illness, my appetite was gone. I was 74kg when I went into hospital – it was so scary.
I saw a leaflet in the hospital about medical nutrition, so my wife asked the nurse about it. The nurse said it could help. The increase in my appetite was a breakthrough. I soon began to eat normally again. The increase of appetite restored my love for life.”
An introduction to cancer and weight loss
Cancer is a term used to group together a set of diseases that can affect almost any part of our body; it will affect around 1 in 2 people during their lifetimes.4 A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event for both the patient and their loved ones. Both the disease and its treatment can be extremely demanding on the body, taking away strength when the body needs to be at its strongest.5
Cancer and weight loss
Keeping physically strong during cancer can be tough; the side effects of the disease and its treatment can take a toll on the body, negatively affecting appetite, the way we taste food and even the way our body absorbs nutrients. For many cancer patients (30-80%6) this leads to weight loss. Importantly, the majority of the weight lost by cancer patients is muscle7 – or ‘lean body mass’ – the protective tissue needed to keep the body strong and withstand treatment. Losing a significant amount of weight can even delay treatment8-10.
The role of medical nutrition in cancer care
Weight loss during cancer, particularly loss of lean body mass, can have a negative impact on the health of a patient, increasing the rate of complications and affecting the success of both treatment and recovery11-13. It is therefore important that cancer patients maintain weight to give themselves the best chance possible. When eating and drinking become difficult due to the disease and/or treatment side effects, medical nutrition may be prescribed by a healthcare professional and can help by delivering all the nutrition a patient needs to support weight14-16.
Nutricia’s role in oncology
Nutricia works hard to make a positive and proven difference to patients' lives, by supporting patients, carers and societies throughout their journey with cancer and helping to deliver a better quality of life. We do so by collaborating with societies like ESSO (European Society for Surgical Oncology), ESMO (The European Society for Medical Oncology), ESPEN (European Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition), hospitals and cancer patients.
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- Burden ST, et al. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle, 2017.
- Baldwin et al. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2012;104(5):371-385.
- Kabata P, et al. Support Cancer Care, 2015 ;23(2) :365-70.