- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Nutrition and cancer
- Treatment side effects and nutrition
- Weight gain
Although it is more common to lose weight during treatment, some people put on weight. This is more likely to happen with certain types of cancer such as breast cancer.
Weight gain can happen as a side effect of treatment and/or medicines:
- Some chemotherapy drugs can cause your body to retain extra fluid in cells and tissues. This is called oedema, and it can cause weight gain and make you feel and look puffy. If chemotherapy makes you feel nauseated, you may find snacking helps but means you eat more.
- Hormone therapy lowers the amount of hormones in the body, which slows your metabolism.
- Steroid therapy (corticosteroids) can cause a larger abdomen, fluid retention (oedema), and a rounded, puffy face. Steroids can also increase your appetite, which may mean you eat more and put on weight.
Feeling stressed or depressed can also make some people eat differently, and being tired because of the treatment may make it harder to exercise.
If you put on weight during treatment and are concerned, speak to your doctor or dietitian about how to best manage it. It is important that your body gets enough nutrition, so do not try a weight loss diet without guidance from a health professional.
Podcast: Appetite Loss and Nausea
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Jacqueline Baker, Senior Oncology Dietitian, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Lauren Atkins, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, OnCore Nutrition, VIC; Dr Tsien Fua, Head and Neck Radiation Oncology Specialist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Clare Hughes, Manager, Nutrition Unit, Cancer Council NSW; John Spurr, Consumer; Emma Vale, Senior Dietitian, GenesisCare, SA; David Wood, Consumer.
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Living well after cancer
Helps you navigate your way through the different emotional, physical and practical challenges you may face after you’ve finished your initial cancer treatment