What is cancer cachexia, which causes nearly one-third of cancer deaths?

Cancer cachexia is a wasting syndrome that is characterised by weight loss, anorexia, asthenia, and anemia. It is a complex condition caused by a multifactorial interaction of tumor and host factors . Cancer cachexia is sometimes referred to as cancer anorexia-cachexia . It is estimated that up to 80% of people with advanced cancer develop some degree of cachexia . The prevalence of cachexia among people with cancer ranges from 15 to 60 percent, increasing to an estimated 80 percent in terminal cancer .

The exact causes of cancer cachexia are not fully understood, but researchers have identified several factors that contribute to its development. One reason cancer leads to cachexia is that the disease causes the immune system to release certain chemicals called cytokines into the bloodstream. These cytokines cause inflammation, which leads to muscle and fat loss. Cytokines also speed up metabolism, causing the body to burn calories faster .

Cancer cachexia can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life and overall prognosis. 

Cancer cachexia can affect the treatment of cancer and can be managed through various approaches. Treatment options for cancer cachexia include nutritional support, exercise, medications, and addressing the underlying causes of cachexia . Researchers are actively studying the causes of cachexia and exploring new ways to treat it .

It is important to note that cachexia is not exclusive to cancer and can also occur in the advanced stages of other illnesses such as heart disease, HIV, and kidney disease .

Treating cancer cachexia is challenging, and effective treatments are still being developed. Current approaches focus on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. These may include nutritional support, exercise programs, and medications to stimulate appetite or reduce inflammation . Researchers are actively studying the causes of cachexia and exploring new ways to treat it .