Most of you must have heard that loss of weight is one of the symptoms of any malignancy. It is a non-specific symptom as not only malignancy but even other conditions can give rise to loss of weight e.g. tuberculosis, diabetes mellitus are some of them.

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However, loss of weight is also a non-specific symptom of malignancy. Most malignancies such as multiple myeloma (MM), leukemias, lymphomas, hepatomas, pancreatic malignancies, and lung malignancies can cause loss of weight. Loss of weight is a late symptom of any malignancy including multiple myeloma.

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Do You Lose Weight With Multiple Myeloma?

Do You Lose Weight With Multiple Myeloma?

The exact reason for the loss of weight in multiple myeloma is not fully understood. Many research studies have identified several possibilities and mechanisms. There is no specific reason for the loss of weight in multiple myeloma, but the same mechanism and possibilities of loss of weight in other malignancies can be attributed to the loss of weight in multiple myeloma as well. (1) (2)

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So, with loss of weight, muscle loss and loss of appetite are two other symptoms that usually accompany. These symptoms can be seen before the diagnosis of multiple myeloma and even during the treatment of multiple myeloma as well. Let us see what are the reasons for these symptoms are:

Cancer Itself- The cancer is like a foreign organism, the immune system recognizes these abnormal cells as foreign bodies in your body that needs to be stopped and eliminated from the body. The cytokines are T-cells and are part of the acquired cell-mediated immune system. Cytokines have many functions and main function is to create an inflammatory reaction and clear off the infective, pathogenic cells. Weight loss, muscle loss, and reduced appetite can be caused due to the activity of cytokines trying to destroy the cancer cells in the body. This can be the reason why patients experience the above-mentioned symptoms before the diagnosis of cancer and in order to see a significant weight loss, it takes time.

Treatment Of Cancer- After the diagnosis of cancer treatment of the cancer is carried out. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are two main treatment modalities for most of the cancers including MM. One of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is loss of appetite. Some of the other side effects are nausea, vomiting, and mouth sores which also leads to loss of appetite. The inability to eat a normal diet leads to loss of weight and wasting of muscles. These treatment modalities also cause fatigue therefore, it limits the normal physical activity and exercises which can cause muscle loss.

Conversion Of White Fat To Brown Fat- Some patients complain that however much they eat, increase the calorie amount there is no increase in the weight and muscle loss is still present. Wasting is seen in one-third of all cancers. So, many research studies have done to identify a reason for this severe wasting seen in cancer patients. They have found out that it can be due to the conversion of white fat to brown fat in cancer patients. There are two kinds of fats in our body white fats which stores the excess calories which are transformed as white fat and stored in the body. Brown fat is present to produce heat, so in order to generate heat, the brown fat breaks down. For some reason that is unknown in cancer patients, the white fat is converted to brown fat which is then broken down and this is the can be the reason for the weight loss and muscle wasting in cancer patients.

Conclusion

Multiple myeloma patients experience weight loss before the diagnosis of multiple myeloma due to the cytokines produced by the immune system in order to destroy the cancer cells. After initiation of chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients experience loss of appetite as a side effect and nausea, vomiting and oral ulcers which also can lead to loss of appetite. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss and muscle loss. The conversion of white fat to brown fat might be another reason for the severe wasting seen in multiple myeloma patients; the reason for this conversion is unknown.

References:

  1. https://www.cancercare.org/questions/210
  2. https://www.ehealthme.com/cs/multiple-myeloma/weight-loss/

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: May 15, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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