Weight changes in oncology patients during the first year after diagnosis: A qualitative investigation of the patients' experiences

Zoe Stamataki, Sorrel Burden, Alexandros Molasiotis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Weight changes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by patients with cancer. However, limited empirical data are available on how cancer patients react to changes in their weight following their diagnosis and treatment. Objective: The present study aims to acquire a deeper understanding of cancer patients' experiences with the physical manifestations of weight loss or gain, the consequence of these changes on their psychosocial life, and their self-management strategies. Methods: Semistructured interviews with 54 cancer patients were conducted longitudinally 2 to 3 weeks after their diagnosis. Follow-up interviews were carried out at 3, 6, and 12 months after diagnosis. Results: From the 54 patients recruited, 34 patients disclosed weight gain, whereas 37 experienced weight loss, suggesting that 17 patients experienced weight fluctuation. Analysis generated 4 themes that reflected the complex dynamics of weight change. Themes were "experiences with the physical manifestations of weight loss or gain," "psychological effects," "self-management," and "social consequences." Conclusion: This study confirms that weight changes have far more complicated implications for patients with cancer, extending beyond physical problems into psychosocial issues. Changes are a constant reminder of the diagnosis and treatment and are persistent across all stages. Implications for Practice: These findings highlight the importance of nutritional psychosocial rehabilitation programs during the cancer trajectory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Longitudinal
  • Nutrition
  • Qualitative
  • Rehabilitation
  • Symptoms
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

Cite this