Unwanted weight loss - when is it cancerous?

Unexplained fever, heavy night sweats and unwanted weight loss are summarized as B symptoms and occur in a variety of malignant and infectious diseases. This symptom triad is often found in advanced tumor diseases and is considered to be prognostically unfavorable. The cause is the high energy requirements of dividing tumor cells and the chemical agents released by them.

In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers from Oxford and Exeter Universities investigated whether weight loss can predict the development of cancer. They evaluated the results of 25 studies with data sets from more than 11.5 million patients. The authors based their evaluation on the guideline of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which refers to an unintentional 3 % decrease in body weight as a risk threshold for a possible tumor disease in patients over 60. Based on the study results, ten types of tumors were associated with weight loss, including common cancers such as prostate, colon, lung and pancreatic cancers. The study proved that weight loss in people over the age of 60 has a high positive predictive value for tumor diseases. It also turned out that even weight losses below the 3 % threshold are to be considered relevant.

Despite further unsolved questions, the authors emphasize the importance of regular weight controls in primary health care. Close attention should be paid to elderly patients whose weight fluctuates unintentionally. Doctors can rely on a wide range of specialized scales to meet their patients' needs for this standard test. But often, this simple and informative examination is hampered by a frequent shortage of staff and an ever-increasing workload. Seca provides a solution, with its automated measuring stations, such as the seca 287 dp, which guide patients through the measuring and weighing process in a voice-operated manner. The data is then sent to a computer where it can be seamlessly inserted into an electronic patient record.

Regular weight checks are not only a doctor's responsibilty, but also that of the patients themselves. They too can make an important contribution to their health through regular weighing at home. Weight checks should be part of everyday life and every doctor's visit in general. By documenting the results accordingly, weight checks provide important information and can indicate changes that might require treatment at an early stage. Ultimately, for most diseases, the sooner they are diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of recovery.

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