Body and weight changes

Body changes

Some cancer treatments will not affect the way you look, but others can. These changes may be temporary or permanent.

It is completely normal for you to feel anxious about the physical changes to your body during or after treatment.

Hard as it is, you need to remember that no matter how your physical appearance may have changed, you are still you.

Get some tips for coping with physical changes.


Weight loss or gain

Cancer and treatments can often have an impact on your weight. The changes are often quite small, but sometimes people put on, or lose, a lot of weight, which can be quite hard to deal with.

Weight loss

Many people who have chemotherapy lose weight. This is because the side effects of chemo include:

The side effects of radiotherapy can also make you lose weight. It’s most common if you have radiotherapy to your head, neck, chest, abdomen or pelvic area – mainly because having radiotherapy to any of these areas can make you feel too sick to eat.

But radiotherapy to other areas can lead to weight loss too, for example radiotherapy to the mouth and throat can make it difficult to chew or swallow, and radiotherapy to the gut can give you diarrhoea or make it difficult for your body to take the nutrients it needs from what you do eat.

Weight gain

Chemotherapy can stop your body from using up all the nutrients you eat so you end up storing some energy as fat. It can also make your body hold onto water and can make you feel too tired to do very much exercise.

Steroids give you a bigger appetite so you might want to eat all the time. They can also make your body retain water and store fat more easily.