Mesothelioma patients frequently experience anorexia — the eating disorder characterized by a lack of appetite and/or purposeful avoidance of food. In fact, anorexia is so common among individuals who have cancer at later stages that the condition is sometimes referred to as “cancer anorexia.” As one of the most devastating forms of cancer, mesothelioma often induces anorexia and other eating problems.
Many Reasons for Mesothelioma Anorexia
When a mesothelioma patient has anorexia, he or she is not inclined to eat, perhaps due to one or more of the following symptoms of mesothelioma or its treatment (such as radiation or chemotherapy or surgery):
- chronic pain
- esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
- dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- dry mouth
- nausea, vomiting
- diarrhea or constipation
It’s been estimated that up to 50 percent of mesothelioma patients develop anorexia or other eating problems, and that among terminally ill cancer patients, about 65 percent are anorexic. Mesothelioma is not the only asbestos disease that causes anorexia, however. Asbestosis and lung cancer patients have also been known to experience anorexic symptoms.
Anorexia May Mark a Turn for the Worse
The development of anorexia is a “red flag” in a mesothelioma patient’s case, because it signals the likely onset of cachexia, or wasting syndrome. Cachexia is marked by:
- loss of weight
- loss of body fat
- muscle atrophy
The combination of the two conditions (known as “anorexia-cachexia syndrome”) is a very bad sign; it’s often the reason for a rapid downturn in a mesothelioma patient’s status and death.
Preventing Anorexia in Mesothelioma Patients
The first line of defense against anorexia in a mesothelioma patient is to prevent it. If any of the following signs are observed in a mesothelioma patient, medical attention is appropriate:
- an aversion to meat or other food groups
- changes in taste, smell
- nausea, vomiting
However, if you or a loved one experienced any of the above symptoms for a period of time, it is important to consult your physician about starting a mesothelioma treatment program immediately.
For ore information about mesothelioma and anorexia, please contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today.