People with leukemia often experience poor appetite, and sometimes they may even have no interest in food, not even their favorite treats. In other cases, they would not reject the food, but will quickly become full after eating a very light meal. When this situation is sustained for a long time, it might further impair the immune function, lead to nutritional problems and weight loss.
The reason why patients with leukemia experience appetite changes are that cancer cells produce a series of inflammatory cytokines and other substances that will be released to the bloodstream and reach the brain tissue. In the brain, these substances and toxins inhibit appetite and may even give patients gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, reducing their desire to eat large meals.
On the other hand, the spleen is located near the stomach and may start pressing on this organ as it grows bigger and bigger. This creates extra pressure in the stomach, which is falsely interpreted by the brain to think that it’s already filled with food. In many other cases, loss of appetite results from chemotherapy, which may even cause changes in smell or taste and lead patients to reject food.