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Meaningful measures in cancer cachexia: implications for practice and research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-327
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Cancer cachexia is a complex inflammatory syndrome, which presents with a variety of discrete symptoms and signs. This creates a challenge for both clinicians and researchers in recognizing and assessing the syndrome. This review explores the evidence for various measures used in the assessment of cachexia. RECENT FINDINGS: Objectively, cachexia may be assessed using CT-derived measures of skeletal muscle [skeletal muscle index (SMI) and skeletal muscle density (SMD)]. Evidence suggests that SMD may be of equal or greater value than SMI in assessing cachexia. Inflammatory markers are also used, and include interleukin(IL)-1α; IL-1β; IL-6 and Interferon Gamma (IFNγ). Other robust measures include performance status and the modified Glasgow prognostic score (mGPS). These measures, however, are more commonly used in academia. By comparison, clinical assessment is limited to individual measures of patient function, such as hand grip strength (HGS), calf circumference, gait speed, and the 'timed up and go test' (TUG). These have each been linked with components of cachexia but are less well evidenced. Evidence also exists for patient-reported quality-of-life measures, based upon the EORTC- QLQ-C30 questionnaire, in assessing cachexia. SUMMARY: Further assessment is required to compare clinical measures of cachexia and determine their utility.

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