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Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer. However, it has not been recognized to date in bereaved partners after spousal loss from cancer.
From a series of bereaved partners who lost a spouse to cancer, we report on those who developed TD after bereavement.
Case 1 was a 57-year-old woman who sought consultation at our “bereavement clinic.” Her husband had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one year earlier and had died one month previously. At the first visit, she was observed to suffer depression, anxiety, and decreased appetite. Neurological, blood, and biochemical examinations did not reveal any noteworthy findings. She was diagnosed with uncomplicated bereavement. Detailed examination revealed that her appetite had been markedly decreased for approximately five weeks. The diagnosis of TD was supported by her abnormally low serum thiamine level. Case 2 was a bereaved 73-year-old male who had lost his wife to hypopharyngeal cancer one month previously after a five-year illness. He had shown a lack of energy for the month preceding his wife's death, but because there was no improvement after her death, his family recommended he seek consultation at our “bereavement clinic.” He was suffering from major depressive disorder. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been decreased for more than two weeks. Again, the diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of results
These reports demonstrate that there is a possibility that bereaved could develop TD after the loss of a loved one. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of the bereaved to prevent complications because of TD.
Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer; however, TD has not been recognized in the family caregivers of cancer patients to date.
From a series of cancer patient caregivers, we reported an aged family caregiver who developed TD while caring for the cancer patient.
The caregiver was a 90-year-old male. He had been accompanying his wife, who was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 years previously, on hospital visits as the primary caregiver, but because of psychological issues, he was recommended to visit the psycho-oncology department's “caregiver's clinic” for a consultation. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been only about 50% of usual from about one year before, and he had lost 12 kg in weight in one year. The diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of the results
This report demonstrates that there is a possibility that care providers could develop TD from the burdens associated with caregiving. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of care providers to prevent complications resulting from TD.
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