Why It Is Important To First Fight Cancer Before Dealing With Excess Weight ?


Cancer is a group of over a hundred diseases that occur when cells in your body begin to grow uncontrollably consequent to genetic changes.

It is not confined to any particular or specific part of the body, but can manifest itself anywhere.

These cells usually form tumors, which can either be malignant or benign. Malignant tumors are cancerous but benign tumors do not spread.

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There are some cancers where there is no tumor. They are leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Many cancers can now be treated if diagnosis is done in the early stages.

However, it still remains one of the most lethal diseases afflicting humankind.

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Types of Cancer:

The basis for the classification of cancer is its place of origin. Accordingly, doctors have broadly identified four different types of cancer:

1) Carcinoma: They generally affect the skin or the covering layer of the internal organs or glands. Examples of carcinoma are prostrate, breast, lung and colorectal. They are by far the most common type of cancer.

2) Sarcoma: This begins in the connective tissue of the body. It develops in the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood and lymph vessels, cartilage or bone.

3) Leukemia: It is the cancer of the blood. It happens when healthy blood cells start growing without control.

4) Lymphoma: As the name suggests, lymphoma originates in the lymphatic system.

Diagnosis of cancer:

The symptoms of cancer are sometimes so subtle that they are mistaken for other medical condition.

But if an unusual symptom appears for no cogent reason at all, it is advisable that you consult a doctor immediately.

The doctors employ a screening test like colonoscopy, mammography and a Pap test to diagnose cancer. Nevertheless, definitive diagnosis for most cancers is possible only with a biopsy.

Diagnosis of cancer
Diagnosis of cancer

Treatment of Cancer:

The treatment of cancer is determined by the place of its origin and the type of cancer. Other factors that influence the course of treatment are:

  • The stage of cancer
  • The type and size of the tumor

Some cancers may need single treatment while others may require a combination of treatments. The recommended treatments adopted by the doctors are local and systemic.

Local Treatment:

The two main treatments are surgery and radiotherapy where the tumor is targeted at specific sites without affecting the other parts of the body.

The magnitude and specifics of surgery depends on the stage of the cancer.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells with the use of X-rays or other forms of energy by a machine placed outside the body.

Systemic Treatment:

Oral or intra-venous drugs and medications are administered through chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

Sometimes chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor.

Weight gain during cancer:

The treatment of cancer induces some people to lose weight but most tend to gain weight.

Reasonable weight gain during cancer treatment is normal but significant weight gain on the other hand may adversely affect the person’s health.

Reports suggest that weight gain during treatment hinders the chances of recovery.

Serious weight issue prior to commencement of cancer treatment is indicative of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart conditions which may hamper the success of the treatment.

Weight gain during cancer
Weight gain during cancer

Ovarian cancer weight gain:

Can you gain weight if you have cancer? Yes, for some cancers like ovarian cancer weight gain is quite common.

It is generally induced by the treatment they have to undergo. The common causes for ovarian cancer weight gain are:

  • Ovarian cancer is detected when the tumor is already very large.
  • Fluid accumulates in the abdomen with large tumors.
  • Retention of excess water in the body is induced by some cancer drugs.
  • Overeating coupled with less exercise triggers weight gain.
  • Constipation causes weight gain.

Can chemotherapy make you gain weight?

Yes chemotherapy can make you gain weight by the following ways:

  • Causing edema which means the body retains excess fluid.
  • Fatigue causes people to adopt a sedentary life.
  • Inducing nausea that is controlled only by eating food.
  • Triggers people to crave for food.
  • Reducing the metabolism rate significantly.
  • It may induce menopause in some women affecting their metabolism.

It has further been observed that persons suffer weight gain after chemo as a side effect.

Cancer weight gain:

Steroid medications are a major reason for cancer weight gain.

Though administration of steroids become necessary to give relief from pain and other complications to the cancer affected persons, it induces a noticeable increase in weight.

Why it is important to first fight cancer before dealing with excess weight?

Cancer in itself may severely impact your activity levels, appetite, food habits and weight.

The side effects of the treatment involving chemotherapy, radiation or surgery may further aggravate the situation.

Yet it is extremely important to withstand the rigors of the treatment to fight cancer.

However, since the gain in weight may influence your prognosis, it is a necessity to devise ways to manage the ill effects to one’s advantage to emerge successfully as a survivor. The indicative ways are:

a) Do not restrict your diet: Most people with cancer tend to become conservative with food. It may hinder your ability to counter the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

b) Ensure enough hydration: Keeping yourself adequately hydrated is important for you to cope with the side effects of chemo and radiation therapy.

c) Stay active: This is the best way to overcome treatment induced fatigue.

d) Be ready for change post treatment: Cancer survivors need to cope with mental and physical changes after the treatment is over. The recommendations for weight management, diet and activity are individual specific and cannot be generalized.

Bottom Line:

Cancer weight gain is a fact of life for cancer patients. You will be able to meet the demands of the treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy etc. and their related side effects well if you are positive in your outlook and adapt to the emerging situation well.

Your ability to change your lifestyle according to the needs of a cancer survivor shall go a long way in keeping yourself as healthy as possible.

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