Lifespan Cancer Institute

Weight Loss


Moderate weight loss is a normal and common side effect of cancer treatment. A rapid weight loss, however, is a concern. Rapid weight loss is defined as an unintentional weight loss of more than two pounds in a week when you are eating normally. People who stay at or near their normal weight during treatment tend to recover faster after treatment. If you are overweight at the start of your treatment, a slight weight loss is not a concern. Concentrate on eating healthy foods during treatment to maximize your nutrition. Limit foods like desserts and salty snacks; these will add calories without providing the nutrients you need.

You don't have to be strict about fats in your diet during cancer treatment. A diet that is moderate in fat and moderate in carbohydrates is best for general health. Nuts are a form of healthy fat. You can add nuts to your breakfast cereal or salads, or use them for a snack. Consider choosing dry nuts because salted or oiled nuts are easy to overeat.

If you lose weight during treatments, it means you need more calories in your diet. If you don't know your ideal weight, ask your dietitian to help determine a healthy body weight for you.