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Losing weight steadily over few months. What could be the reason?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 14912 Questions
I am steadily losing weight over the past 5-6 months XXXXXXX XXXX
Posted Tue, 24 Sep 2013 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 13 minutes later
Brief Answer:
unintentional weight loss needs investigations

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

Unintentional weight loss is always concerning.

If you have not been actively trying to lose weight or there have been no changes in either your diet or activity then the weight loss needs to be investigated.

The causes of unintentional weight loss are : (1) chronic illness such as heart failure, diabetes,
(2)illness associated with malabsorption of food such as inflammatory bowel disease- there may be other symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, blood in the stool

(3) hyperthyroidism- high levels of thyroid hormone can cause weight loss

(4) chronic or prolonged diarrhoea

(5)severe infection


(7) depression

When a persons presents with this symptom of unintentional weight loss then the next course of action normally involves (1) examination of the chest and abdomen,
(2)rectal examination (looking for a mass in the colon and also checking the prostate),
(3) checking for any lymph node enlargement in any aspect of the body

Investigations are usually required. The initial investigations are full blood count, ESR (checks for inflammation, would be high if any inflammation in the body), calcium, liver function test, barium enema or colonoscopy.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any additional questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Losing weight steadily over few months. What could be the reason? 3 hours later
Hi Dr. XXXXXXX thank you for your very interesting reply to my question. My greatest fear is: cancer in the abdomen area such as the pancreas, 2 of my friends contracted it & lost lots of weight and were gone in 6 months. I understand it is difficult to diagnose until it is too late. They were both given chemo & radiation to no avail. Again I thank you and I have an appointment with my internist in 2 weeks and I will ask for tests and cat scan. XXXXXXX Weiss
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 18 minutes later
Brief Answer:
may not be related to ca pancreas

Detailed Answer:

Yes cancer of the pancreas is normally diagnosed late. The pancreas is towards the back of the abdomen and the symptoms occur later rather than sooner.

It may not be related to this condition however.

Please free to ask any thing else
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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