How Do I Fight Chemotherapy Weight Loss?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Cancer is often treated with chemotherapy, which can cause some side effects. Chemotherapy weight loss is one of these side effects, and it is usually caused by other side effects, such as nausea. Treating nausea caused by chemotherapy may be enough to help prevent this weight loss. Most doctors also typically advise their chemotherapy patients to eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day.

Although it is one of the most effective cancer treatments, chemotherapy typically causes patients to feel nauseated. This is particularly true when it is used to treat certain gastrointestinal cancers. These side effects will often cause a patient to lose her appetite, which can lead to chemotherapy weight loss.

Most patients going through this type of treatment for cancer will usually experience either chemotherapy weight gain or weight loss. Coupled with the normal weight loss during cancer, however, chemotherapy weight loss can lead to other serious medical conditions. A patient who loses more than five pounds (2.3 kilograms) a week during chemotherapy should speak with her doctor as soon as possible.

Treating other side effects of chemotherapy may help prevent chemotherapy weight loss. To prevent nausea, a chemotherapy patient should avoid any strong smells, particularly strong food smells. Nausea may also be prevented by avoiding any possibly irritating foods, especially greasy and fried foods. Resting after eating can also aid in digestion and prevent nausea during chemotherapy. In some cases, a doctor may also recommend an anti-nausea medicine.


Instead of eating three large meals each day, many chemotherapy patients are typically advised to eat about six small meals. These smaller meals are often much easier to digest than three large meals. It is also important to create a schedule for eating and stick with it. A patient should eat at the same time every day, whether she is hungry or not. A balanced, healthy chemotherapy diet is important, and it should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains.

Snacking throughout the day can also help prevent chemotherapy weight loss. Some doctors advise their patients to eat a small snack as often as once every hour. This will increase the amount of calories that patients consume each day. Bland snacks are usually best, since these are less likely to cause nausea.


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