Discussions By Condition: Cancer

Cancer Wasting Syndrome?

Posted In: Cancer 6 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • March 21, 2007
  • 04:31 AM

I have now posted this message two times on the website having failed to note there is a specific board for cancer related issues. If anyone here might be familiar with cancer cachexia, I would GREATLY appreciate your input.

I am a 24 year old male who, until last year, was totally healthy. Last November I got mononucleosis which lasted 3 weeks. During the time I had mono, I noticed my body mass was significantly decreasing (as my clothing was starting to get too large) however my weight on a scale was the same as always. After recovering from the infection, my "visable" weight returned to normal. Also after the infection, however, a hard lump appeared on my jawbone, below one of my back molars.

The lump has gotten larger and the adjacent bone is now expanded as well. There is no tooth infection causing the swelling, there is no pain, there is no sensitivity, etc. X-rays and CT scans show nothing. I finally pushed an oral surgeon to perform a biopsy early February, and afterwords the "tumor" area got slightly larger, and I started to waste away. The biopsy came back as non-malignant (normal bone).

By my own account, now in late March, I have lost some 20+ pounds of fat/muscle/both, yet the scale has not changed at all. I am a tall, relatively thin person so the doctors are at a total loss as to where this weight is going. Obviously if I had a giant mass sticking out of my abdomen or swollen ankles it might explain the issue, but I don't. My entire body is thinning to the point where bones are sticking out and depressions are now clearly visable. My hands and feet pratically look like those of a skeleton and feel that way as well in light of the loss of muscle/fat.

All of my blood work is normal, showing no irregularities. I am HIV negative. Blood sugar testing is normal. Thyroid hormone level is normal. I have no real muscle weakness, no fatigue, and my apetite is normal. The only thing that stuck out was my trygliceride level shot up from something like 80 to 209 in the span of 2 weeks, and my HDL cholesterol went from 54 to 32 in the same period. I have never had high tryglicerides before and never had any cholesterol issues (always low if anything). Cancer-induced wasting, from my research, can indeed cause triglyceride levels to spike, and HDL cholesterol levels to decline. Doctors however, claim it is probably from what I am eating despite my diet not changing.

Since late Feburary, I have also been having chest pains off and on, right around my heart area. I have also noticed a rapid heartbeat upon getting up from sitting.

This is really fusturating because doctors claim there is nothing wrong with me and don't even believe the wasting issue in light of my weight remaining the same. "Anxiety" is what they keep telling me in light of an actual diagnosis, yet I can SEE myself getting thinner each day and those that know me agree that I have never looked so thin before.

Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? I am quite sure that I have some rare type of cancer (that "conveniently" is not showing up as a tumor on x-ray) as there is absolutely nothing that would otherwise explain this wasting. The wasting only began in relation to this bony mass getting larger/getting biopsied so deductive reasoning implies it has to be related.

I can not, for the life of me, even begin to understand how a bone swelling diagnosed as an "exostosis" would still not show up on an x-ray. How is it possible to have a mass growing on your body and yet medical tests fail to show it? I've read about EXTREMELY rare cases of jaw swellings where there is a cancer and for reasons unknown, no radiolucency appears on x-ray or CT, but all of my doctors assure me I don't have cancer.

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6 Replies:

  • have you had a PET scan. It will show, without a doubt, if there is cancer anywhere in your body. Peace of mind is priceless. I do kno, however, that stress is a huge contributor to weight loss. I had a friend that went through a very stressful situation, and was eating fine, but lost LOTS of weight due to the stress. Good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi, thanks for the reply. No I have not had a PET scan yet. The doctors are rather unconcerned because all of my tests so far have been perfectly normal; they won't even order an MRI of my head to look at the tumor. If it wasn't for the fact that I have swellings on my jaw and skull I wouldn't be latching onto the cancer issue, but because the jaw one just appeared and then got larger it really concerns me. The wasting began to occur around the same time as the jaw mass enlarged. I've heard of stress causing weight loss, and can see that I am (even subconsciously) anxious about the masses being tumors, however absolutely nothing explains why I am still at normal weight yet I look so thin. I've read that cancer cachexia can cause thinning withOUT weight loss (due to body mass being re-proportioned) but I don't have any large deposits of fat anywhere.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • For peace of mind at this point, I think that I would go to a new Dr or as many as needed to get the scan. I had to go to 4 doctors before I had a biopsy for lymph nodes that were swelling. If you go to a new dr., tell your symptoms and dont sugar coat anything, even exaggerate your symptoms if that what it takes to get the scan. I got an emergency MRI of my entire head last year due to numbness and tingling in my face. (turned out to be stress) At least that way you know for sure.Also, you are about the age that men are when they start loosing their "baby fat" and thin up. My husband says that he weights the same that he always has, 175, but I can tell that he looks much thinner. (He is 28). We have even had to buy new clothes for him in a smaller size. The odds are that everything is fine, but peace of mind is priceless, so don't give up.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi. Unfortunately going to a new doctor is difficult as it requires doing all kinds of work with the insurance company to change the Primairy Care Provider. I am getting an MRI next week which should hopefully cast more light on the bone growths...how is a PET scan better than an MRI, or is it similar? As far as the "baby fat" issue goes...I don't think that's my problem. Some of my fingers are starting to twist from the weight loss (meaning they aren't straight) and they (along with my feet) don't feel like there is any "padding" inside, just bones and joints. It's difficult to explain really...it's like my skin is turning to mush yet I still have full muscle functionality. It seems odd to think that I would suddenly start to loose the fat, especially in the span of only 3 months. I was fine after the mono, but as soon as the bone "swelling" in my mouth enlarged, the "wasting" began. Thanks for the feedback though; I will definately try and push harder for the testing.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am a PET technologist, and only certain cancers have been proven to show on PET scans ie: lung cancer (but ONLY non small cell type), breast cancer, head and neck cancers, lymphoma, esophageal cancer, colon, melanoma, only one type of thyroid cancer. It has not been shown to be very beneficial in picking up many others such as: prostate, pancreatic, ovarian etc...just a note to say the person who advised that if you have cancer, a PET scan will definitely pick it up, this is not true...only certain cancers
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 22, 2007
    • 06:01 AM
    • 0
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  • Hi friends, I think you will like to know this finding that University of Michigan study has found that the absence or low function of a gene, called CHFR in breast cells trigger abnormal cells which are predisposed to become cancerous. The study lays the foundation for better ways to choose most effective breast cancer treatments, and analysis of CHFR gene is also a hot area of interest among researchers trying to explain colorectal, stomach, lung and other forms of cancer.The findings have revealed how and why new "daughter" cells, produced as cells in body tissues renew themselves, receive too few or too many chromosomes if expression of the CHFR gene is missing or low. The loss of CHFR can lead to the survival of genetically unstable cells loaded with too many chromosomes, which can lead to cancer. "Our findings show that loss of CHFR disrupts normal chromosome segregation in breast cells during cell division and creates genomic instability, which can drive genetic mechanisms that accelerate the development of cancer," said Elizabeth Petty, M.D. , a U-M professor in the departments of human genetics and internal medicine and the senior author of the study.The findings can shed more light on the scientific basis for diagnostic markers and identify which patients can benefit from specific types of cancer drugs."Our previous findings, and the work of others, have shown that cancer cells cultured in the lab that have low or absent CHFR expression are more susceptible to treatment with a class of drugs called taxanes, such as paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel, that attack the dividing cells when they are trying to separate their chromosomes," said Lisa Privette, Ph.D., the study's first author, a recent U-M Medical School graduate and now a researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. read more abot ths from herehttp://cancer-care-center.blogspot.com/2008/06/in-preventing-breast-cancer-chfr-gene.htmlthank you alinaCancer Centerhttp://cancer-care-center.blogspot.com/Cancer center provide accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive information on cancer treatment, cancer research and various types of cancer. We believe that information about cancer should be freely available to all, so we can win the fight against cancer
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
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