Unexplained Weight Loss

Whenever a person over 50 loses more that 10 pounds without trying to do so, he or she should check with a doctor. One out of three cases will be caused by something wrong in the gastrointestinal tract. As much as 25 percent of unexplained weight loss will be from an undetected cancer, often in the stomach, intestines, colon, liver or pancreas.

Every older person who loses weight without trying to do so needs an X ray check of his stomach and colon to look for cancers there, and a sonogram of the abdomen to look for cancer of the pancreas, liver or ovaries. If the doctor still cannot find a cause, he must look for diseases the prevent the absorption of food from the intestinal tract.

Unintentional weight loss: diagnosis and prognosis. The first prospective follow-up study from a secondary referral centre. PG Lankisch, M Gerzmann, JF Gerzmann, D Lehnick. Journal of Internal Medicine, 2001, Vol 249, Iss 1, pp 41-46. Address: Lankisch PG, Staedt Klinikum Lueneburg, Med Klin, Boegelstr 1, D-21339 Lueneburg, GERMANY

Checked 7/9/09

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