While surgery is not the only treatment option for cancer patients, reports from the MD Anderson Cancer Center note that up to 60% of patients turn to surgery as part of their battle against the Big C. Now, while the same report shares that sometimes surgery is enough to beat cancer, it’s integral for patients to be vigilant in their recovery. One of the most critical factors that should be prioritized in this period is weight maintenance. It might often be overlooked, but it plays a crucial role in post-cancer surgery recovery, remission, and overall well-being. By losing as little as 5 to 10% of your total body weight, you’re already reducing your cancer risk and improving your outcome.
Because of this, cancer patients and their carers must know how to properly manage weight while still being aligned with their individual needs and conditions. To help you with this journey, let’s delve into the significance of maintaining a healthy weight post-cancer surgery and a few practical tips to manage your weight effectively.
The Connection Between Weight and Cancer
Cancer and weight are intricately linked. Scientific research has shown that excess weight can increase the risk of developing 13 types of cancer. Furthermore, as you transition into the post-surgery period, your total weight can influence the pace of your recovery and the likelihood of remission. Losing too much weight unintentionally after surgery can weaken your body’s immune system, making it difficult for you to regain strength and heal. On the flip side, significant weight gain after cancer treatment can potentially increase the risk of cancer recurrence and might lead to other complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and joint problems. Because of these aspects, striking the right balance in your weight management strategy is key. That said, navigating weight management after cancer surgery doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Consider incorporating these strategies into your routine, so you can optimize your recovery.
3 Effective Weight Management Strategies After Cancer Surgery
Plan mindfully for sustainable post-surgery success
First and foremost, set realistic goals that consider your unique needs to kick off your weight management strategy. It doesn’t have to be a drastic lifestyle change. You can start by understanding your body’s set point weight, which is the consistent weight at which your body naturally settles. This can be different for everyone, and it’s a big reason why some people can’t seem to manage weight easily. Your set point weight is determined by your appetite, genetics, hormones, medication, and eating habits. When you consider all these factors, especially with professional help, you’ll be able to set more nuanced goals that actually align with your needs and state. This can lead to a more sustainable weight management plan and post-surgery success.
Embrace a customized fitness regimen
Another weight management strategy that works is to engage in regular physical activity. This can aid in maintaining muscle mass and body composition, boosting metabolism, and improving your overall well-being. Studies suggest that active people who survived common types of cancer, such as breast cancer, have a lower risk of recurrence, as well as a higher survival rate. However, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program to ensure it’s safe and customized for your condition. When the regimen’s approved, start slowly but do be consistent for the best results.
Integrate holistic wellness practices
As a cancer patient, the emotional and social impact of cancer can take its toll on your mental health, which can lead to significant weight changes. Case in point, BMC Women’s Health shows that at least 24% of patients with an increased risk of breast cancer admit that stress is the reason for their weight gain. To manage stress and improve your overall quality of life, consider adopting wellness practices like meditation into your day-to-day routine. These simple yet effective activities can help support your mental health so you’re in a better mindset to manage your weight.