Cancer Cachexia and Anorexia

  • Neil MacDonaldEmail author
  • Vickie Baracos


Assessment, diagnostic criteria, management, and new therapy development in cancer – associated cachexia/anorexia are based on our understanding of the definition of this clinical problem. Efforts to define and develop diagnostic criteria for cancer cachexia are ongoing in the community of experts in clinical cancer cachexia research. Current conception of cancer cachexia underscores the central importance of skeletal muscle wasting and its consequent impairments of physical function as well as metabolic impairments (such as severe cancer treatment toxicity). Recognition of the complexity of cachexia is also of considerable importance, especially in its presentation with a variable combination of reduced food intake (with both primary and secondary etiologies) and abnormal metabolism (including tumor metabolism and host inflammation) in its underlying pathophysiology. These defining characteristics dictate a multifaceted assessment strategy focusing on muscle loss, food intake, nutrition impact symptoms, catabolic drivers including tumor burden, systemic inflammation, altered endocrine status, functional and psychosocial consequences, and estimation of survival. Cancer cachexia requires application of a multimodal therapy focusing on management of pain, other symptoms and inflammation, treatment of all reversible causes of low food intake, providing a supply of key essential nutrients, and exercise; this therapy entrains the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals as well as patients and their families.


Cancer Cachexia Distress Thermometer Skeletal Muscle Index Nutrition Impact Symptom Skeletal Muscle Wasting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OncologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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