Cancer cachexia: from molecular mechanisms to patient's care

Simone Lucia, Martina Esposito, Filippo Rossi Fanelli, Maurizio Muscaritoli
Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis 2012, 17 (3): 315-21
Cancer cachexia is a disabling syndrome because of the complex interactions between the tumor, host metabolism, and proinflammatory cytokines that increases patients' morbidity and mortality. Considering the recent new definition and classification of cachexia, we aimed to review cancer cachexia from its underlying mechanisms to the clinical approach. Cancer cachexia is featured by a disruption in energy balance, metabolic changes, a decrease in fat mass, depletion of skeletal muscle mass, and perturbations in proinflammatory cytokines. Diagnostic effort should be focused on the recognition of precachexia to prevent or delay changes in body composition and nutritional complications secondary to cancer. From the point of disease diagnosis, every cancer patient needs continuous monitoring to receive effective, tailored nutritional and metabolic support. To date, practical guidelines to counteract cancer-related muscle wasting are lacking, mainly because of the multifactorial pathogenesis of the syndrome. A single therapy may not be effective; only a multimodal approach involving different treatment combinations is more likely to be successful in the prevention and treatment of cancer cachexia.

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