Mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation treatments offer a classic example of a “double-edged sword” – something that can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. For treating mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation currently provide the best options. But at the same time, the side effects can be devastating and cause health problems on their own.
One of the most notorious side effects of both chemotherapy and radiation treatment is weight loss. Given our society’s obsession with weight loss and dieting, it is ironic that the weight loss associated with mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation is not a good thing. It can weaken the body and deplete its reserves at a time when strength and resilience are most needed.
How Chemotherapy Causes Weight Loss
According to the National Cancer Institute, the division of our government’s National Institutes of Health that provides comprehensive cancer information, here’s why chemotherapy often results in unwanted weight loss:
Chemotherapy may cause side effects that cause problems with eating and digestion. When more than one anticancer drug is given, more side effects may occur or they may be more severe.
The following side effects are common:
- Loss of appetite.
- Inflammation and sores in the mouth.
- Changes in the way food tastes.
- Feeling full after only a small amount of food.
How Radiation Causes Weight Loss
Radiation therapy to any part of the digestive system often has side effects that cause nutrition problems. For mesothelioma radiation treatment to the lung area can have an impact on the upper digestive tract.
For radiation therapy to the chest
- Infection of the esophagus.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Esophageal reflux (a backward flow of the stomach contents into the esophagus).
How to Combat Weight Loss from Chemotherapy and Radiation
Your oncologist’s office will give you nutritional support information to help you combat weight loss during your mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation treatments. But here are a few general tips based on National Cancer Institute information:
- Get enough protein and calories to prevent weight loss, help wound and skin healing, and maintain general health.
- Consume nutritional supplement drinks between meals.
- Try changes in your diet, such as eating small meals throughout the day.