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Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2011;2011:601434. doi: 10.1155/2011/601434. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Cancer cachexia: mechanisms and clinical implications.

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1
Department of Surgery, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, St James' Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.

Abstract

Cachexia is a multifactorial process of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue atrophy resulting in progressive weight loss. It is associated with poor quality of life, poor physical function, and poor prognosis in cancer patients. It involves multiple pathways: procachectic and proinflammatory signals from tumour cells, systemic inflammation in the host, and widespread metabolic changes (increased resting energy expenditure and alterations in metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrate). Whether it is primarily driven by the tumour or as a result of the host response to the tumour has yet to be fully elucidated. Cachexia is compounded by anorexia and the relationship between these two entities has not been clarified fully. Inconsistencies in the definition of cachexia have limited the epidemiological characterisation of the condition and there has been slow progress in identifying therapeutic agents and trialling them in the clinical setting. Understanding the complex interplay of tumour and host factors will uncover new therapeutic targets.

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