What causes weight loss without cancer in the elderly?

Q. What are the reasons for weight and muscle loss in a 60-year-old with no history or signs of cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Rajesh Gulati
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Mar 14, 2022 and last reviewed on: Oct 11, 2023

Hello doctor,

A 60-year-old female with no prior history of cancer has unexplained weight loss, muscle loss, and gas bloating. Her lab work was run, with CA 19-9 elevated at 55 U/mL, beta-hCG is 9.25 at mlU/ml. MRI and CT did not show any masses anywhere; the ultrasound of the pelvis and ovary shows no groups. The patient also complained of constant heart palpitations and fainting feelings. Her EKG shows negative arrhythmias. Both colonoscopy and endoscopy were performed and were negative. What does this indicate? We are trying to rule out both ovarian and pancreatic cancer. We did not know in which direction to look.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

If MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans show no masses, it seems unlikely to be pancreatic or ovarian cancer. These markers are significantly raised in cancer in thousands. Mild raise could be inflammatory or non-significant. I suggest repeating these markers after one month. If a significant rise is seen, you should get a PET-CT (positron emission computed tomography) scan done. It is more specific to pick up cancer. Loss of weight could be due to less food intake. I advise nutritional supplements and protein powder. Also, get her blood sugar level checked.

Hello doctor,

Thank you for your reply.

If the mild rise in cancer markers is due to inflammation, what inflammatory markers should we look at?



Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Inflammation is just one of the reasons. If there is significant inflammation, it will be seen on a CT scan. So, if it is inflammatory, it is very mild and needs no treatment. If she has no pain, then no specific treatment is required. Now she needs supplements, a protein-rich diet, and milk products. Repeat these markers after one month.

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