The Importance of building Muscle in Cancer Patients


Physical weakness causes cancer death in most patients with advanced cancer. Cachexia, which is a wasting syndrome, causes significant loss of weight and skeletal muscle mass. Sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass is another condition that is associated with aging. The two conditions are indicators of prognosis in patients with advanced cancers who barely survive the disease.

Studies show that patients with early-stage cancers could also be at risk. Research is underway to find ways for cancer patients to build more muscle that will help in recovery. According to the study:

  • Researchers are working towards altering the prognosis. More studies are being carried out to determine if the outcomes in patients could be improved by increasing their muscle mass.
  • The patients diagnosed with stage II and stage III breast cancer who participated in the study were found to have a low chance of survival compared with those without Sarcopenia. All their cancers were still localized at the time of diagnosis.
  • It was concluded that sarcopenia has been under-recognized even after occurring in over a third of patients who are newly diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer.
  • The findings can also be applied to various other non-metastatic cancers. This is because the connection between increased muscle mass and improved survival for patients with metastatic cancer is evident in patients with multiple solid tumors.
  • Another study also linked poor prognosis in non-metastatic colorectal cancer patients with low muscle mass.
  • Sarcopenia also worsens the outlooks of patients who have high body fat. The study observed that breast cancer patients who had high body fat and sarcopenia had a high risk (of 89%) of dying from the disease. It was also found that sarcopenia if combined with inflammation, doubles the risk of the patient dying from cancer.

Doctors are advised to recommend strength training, dietary changes and weight loss to all patients with non-metastatic cancer.

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