Is it normal to lose a lot of weight after CRS HIPEC?

JM from Canada asks:

“My husband had CRS with HIPEC three weeks ago. He has been home for one week and is having difficulty eating. He has no desire to eat but he forces himself.  Today he had one quarter cup of soup, that is all.

As soon as he eats he has to go to the bathroom (it’s like water). He lost 37 lbs. during the first two weeks in the hospital. I think he has dropped more weight during the week has been home.

I don't know what to do. I need help!”

PMP Pals responds:

“Your husband’s experience of weight loss, including the amount of weight he has lost, is common among post-operative CRS HIPEC patients.

The PMP Pals’ Network does not provide medical advice, therefore the first suggestion we offer is to share your concerns with your husband’s surgeon. Ask her to refer your husband to a licensed registered dietician and be sure that the dietician reads a copy of your husband’s operative report, before prescribing a diet plan for him. Appendiceal cancer, GI cancer and colorectal cancer patients have specific and individual nutritional needs, largely based on the nature of our surgery(ies) including any resections or organ removal that have occurred during surgery, as these surgeries may affect your husband’s ability to gain and maintain weight in the future, as well the adequate absorption of nutrients.

It is a common experience among “Pals” to report symptoms of post-operative anorexia. Generally this condition lessens during the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, you may find it helpful to “coax” your husband’s appetite by offering small, tasty and nutritional snacks throughout the day. It is likely that he will accept small snacks every couple of hours instead of a large meal three times per day.

Although it may be tempting to feed him high calorie laden foods including dairy products of commercially prepared canned “nutritional supplement” beverages, ice cream, milk, milk shake “smoothies”, fried foods, etc., in an effort to help him gain weight, these food items might actually contribute to diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss. Most of these products contain milk products and/or sweeteners, which your husband many not be able to digest now if he had become lactose intolerant or has what is commonly described as “short gut syndrome” following surgery.

Be aware the sweeteners are included or “hidden” in many food products. If your husband is now sensitive to lactose or sweeteners, check the labels of any commercially prepared foods carefully.

Generally lean meats and proteins, well cooked (soft) vegetables and fruit and quality carbohydrates are helpful food selections for post op GI cancer patients. A licensed dietician can provide a diet tailored to your husband’s specific needs.

Please refer to the following articles for additional information on this topic:

Post Op Weight Loss and Nutrition

Post Op Weight Loss and Canned Nutritional Supplements

When Will I Feel Better After Surgery?

Post-Operative Care (including "When Will I Feel Better After Surgery?")

Nutrition (includes articles about “short gut syndrome” and “malabsorption.”)

For additional personalized assistance, we invite you and your husband to join the PMP Pals’ Network!”


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PMP Pals and on are written from the perspectives of patients and their families and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional legal or medical advice. Each patient is unique and should seek specific counsel from their own licensed healthcare professional. Copyright © 2012 by the PMP Pals’ Network. All rights reserved