THE EFFECTS OF CANCER
One of the first indications of cancer may be unexplained weight loss because the tumor cells use for their own metabolism and development the nutrients the host has taken in. The host may suffer from weakness, and anorexia may occur, which compounds the weight loss. The weight loss includes the loss of muscle tissue and hypoalbuminemia, and anemia may develop. The sense of taste and smell maybe affected. Some foods may taste different: They may not have much taste, or everything may taste the same. Cancer clients, after chemotherapy, may experi-ence a metallic taste when eating protein foods. Many clients complain of food tasting too sweet. Radiation to the neck and head can cause damage to the taste buds and could also affect taste and smell, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
Cancer clients become satiated earlier than normal, possibly because of decreased digestive secretions. Insulin production may be abnormal, and hyperglycemia can delay the stomach’s emptying and dull the appetite. Some cancers cause hypercalcemia. If this is chronic, renal stones and impaired kidney function can occur.The effects of cancer on the host are particularly determined by the loca-tion of a tumor. For example, an esophageal or intestinal tumor can cause blockage in the gastrointestinal tract, causing malabsorption. If the cancer is untreated, the continued anorexia and weight loss will create a state of malnu-trition, which in turn can lead to cachexia and, ultimately, death.