Cancer cachexia: developing multimodal therapy for a multidimensional problem

K C H Fearon, Kenneth Fearon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Cancer cachexia is a multi-factorial syndrome that encompasses a spectrum from early weight loss (pre-cachexia) to a state of severe incapacity incompatible with life. The molecular basis of the syndrome in animal models (based on host-tumour cell interaction, the neuro-hormonal control of appetite and the hypertrophy/atrophy pathways that govern muscle-wasting) has provided a new raft of biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Key defining features of cachexia in humans (weight loss, reduced food intake and systemic inflammation) now provide not only a framework for classification but also a rationale for targets for therapeutic intervention. The role of age and immobility in muscle-wasting also provides a rationale for the nature of nutritional support in cachexia. There is now a substantive evidence that multimodal approaches that address these key issues can stabilise and even improve the nutritional status, function and quality of life of at least a proportion of advanced cancer patients. Novel biomarkers for patient stratification and more specific techniques for the estimation of muscle mass and physical activity level herald a new era in trial design. The current evidence-base justifies new enthusiasm for the design of complex intervention studies in the management of cancer cachexia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-32
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biological Markers
  • Cachexia
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Muscular Atrophy
  • Neoplasms
  • Proteins
  • Quality of Life


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