Life After Cancer Treatment: Managing Changes in Weight and Eating Habits

Some survivors who have had certain kinds of chemotherapy or medicines have problems with weight gain. Sometimes the added pounds stay on even when treatment ends. Breast cancer survivors who have had certain types of chemotherapy gain weight in a different way - they may lose muscle and gain fat tissue.

Unfortunately, the usual ways people try to lose weight may not work for them. Try to be patient with yourself. Look for the positive things that you can control, such as eating a healthy diet. Try to focus on the fact that treatment is over, and you are trying to get stronger with time.

Some cancer survivors have the opposite problem: they have no desire to eat, and they lose weight. Some men say that weight loss or loss of muscle tone is a bigger concern for them than weight gain. It makes them feel less strong and like less of a man.

Managing a Healthy Weight

For weight issues, ask your doctor or nurse about:

  • Doing strength-building exercises, if you have lost muscle or gained fat tissue
  • Talking to a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you plan a healthy diet that won't add extra pounds

Regaining a Lost Appetite

Here are some tips that have helped others improve their appetites:

  • Start with small meals. Five small meals a day may be easier to manage than three larger ones.
  • Focus on your favorite foods. If the thought of eating still lacks appeal, try the foods you really liked before treatment to jump-start your appetite. Try adding some fresh fruit, juice, or other flavoring to improve the taste.
  • Stay active. A short walk before a meal can help you feel hungry.

Retrieved from on September 15, 2017.

Document source: 
National Cancer Institute