Everyone talks about weight loss during cancer treatments, but what about weight gain, especially during treatment for breast cancer?

Women often experience what they believe is a totally unexpected weight gain while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This may be due to a combination of energy loss, hormonal changes, treatment choices (chemotherapy and/or radiation), and stress. Women should be encouraged to eat well-balanced meals that focus on lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Many cancer programs have nutritional support counseling available for patients, and many breast cancer support groups spend at least one meeting discussing both weight gain and loss.

There are several ongoing research projects investigating theeffect an exercise program may have on overall symptom management and emotional health during cancer treatment. One such study, led by Roanne Segal in 2001, reports an improvement in physical functioning and no adverse outcomes with a moderate exercise program (J Clin Oncol. 2001;19[3]:657). Other studies continue to review this issue with no reportable results yet. Therefore, an exercise program should be considered an ongoing issue that should be dealt with on an individual basis for now. — Rosemarie A. Tucci, RN, MSN

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