Is Cachexia a Sign of Dying?

The honest answer, until recently, is — yes. But saying something is a sign of death
sounds like it’s a fact, as if cachexia means certain death. There is no definitive
prevention or treatment of cachexia, so let’s just accept it and proceed to expiration. Or
could it be that we just have not figured out the pathology of cachexia yet — that is, how
it comes to exist in the body — and therefore we just can’t stop it yet?

That’s how we figure out diseases, right? Either by trial and error — testing certain
drugs to see if they work. Or by figuring out how the disease happens and interfering
with that.

So, perhaps the better question is: Is cachexia associated with death because it’s a
stigma of life-threatening disease? The answer is still a resounding yes. Doctors and
health care professionals still associate cachexia with death. And patients and their
families see it with their own eyes … and well, a person with advanced cachexia is
emaciated and looks like they are dying. It’s difficult not to make the association.

But there’s a growing number of researchers and doctors that believe that resigning
cachexia patients to a death sentence is BS. That sticking a patient’s cachexia under
the palliative care column once diagnosed is not good enough.

So, what is being done about it?

Why is Cachexia Associated with Death?
A 2013 study called the causes of Cachexia a “century-long uncertainty”. But cachexia
has been perplexing healers since ancient times. Long before cachexia was defined in
these last two decades, medical experts were recognizing cachexia in the late stages of
disease and identifying it as a sign of death. Hippocrates, the ancient physician and

philosopher, described a cachexia patient as having “a sharp nose, hollow eyes, sunken
temples. . . .”

Cachexia hsd a constellation of causes, such as, anorexia, inflammation, insulin
resistance, increased muscle protein breakdown, and how these causes play out
depends on the underlying disease, but not the disease alone. Cachexia can result from
many different diseases that have at least one thing in common: they are all life-
threatening. Cancer, diabetes, untreated AIDS, COPD, chronic heart failure, chronic
renal failure, and rheumatoid arthritis are just some of these diseases associated with
cachexia, with cancer cachexia being the most studied so far. According to leading
researchers, Stefan D. Anker and Stephon von Haeling, the most frequent cachexia
subtypes in order are COPD cachexia, cardiac cachexia, cancer cachexia, and
cachexia of chronic renal failure. They estimate that in industrialized nations, about 9
million people are affected by cachexia.

It’s almost as if the disease puts the patient on a Cachexia roadmap, where the
destination is basically the same, but the way it can take can vary. This could explain
why we still associate cachexia with death. From history until very recently, we have
only recognized cachexia in late stages, so it is associated with death. This lack of early
recognition has led to a lack of attention. Lack of attention has led to a lack of
understanding. Lack of understanding has led to a lack of treatment and a resolve to
continue to to equate cachexia with death. Like the disease itself, this cycle feeds on
itself.

Lack of Early Recognition of Cachexia
The emaciated description given by Hippocrates above, still persists as “first signs” for
doctors today. Some of the first signs of cachexia doctors look for are changes at the
temple of the head and the emergence of more prominent bone structures.

In a 2017 multinational survey of 742 oncology health care professionals (HCPs), 86%
defined cachexia as weight loss, with 46% throwing anorexia into the definition. Half of

the respondents said they would diagnose cachexia after 10% weight loss, 35% said
they would wait for a 15% to 20% loss, and 10% of these professionals said they would
wait for a weight loss >25%.

Pause for dramatic effect.

In 2008 (that’s 9 years prior to this study), official diagnostic criteria for cachexia was
developed by scientists and clinicians at an international conference in Washington,
D.C. The percentage of weight loss necessary to diagnose a patient with cachexia
is 5%. As you can see, most HCPs diagnose cachexia too late.

Lack of Attention to Cachexia
“We believe that cachexia requires more attention, not only by physicians and other
health care professionals, but also by the general public.” This is one of the reasons
Ander and von Haehling gave for starting their Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia, and
Muscle in 2011.

In 2015, Anker told Nature journal of science that the biggest challenge to the field of
cachexia is that it has to compete for funding and recognition with research into other
major diseases.

Jose Garcia, a clinical researcher focused on wasting disorders at the Michael
E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas, expressed in the same
article, “I’m a little bit worried that if we don’t see a successful clinical trial in the next five
years, the dollars from the pharmaceutical industry to develop a treatment will go
somewhere else.”

If we continue to think of cachexia as just a part of the death process for the 9 million
people suffering from it, then his worries are probably justified.

Lack of Understanding of Cachexia

The lack of understanding of cachexia, like the causes of cachexia themselves, spring
from a variety of reasons. For one, only recently was cachexia defined in the mid 2000s,
and since then the definition has continued to be refined. It’s difficult to institute a
standard when criteria keep evolving. But it appears that knowledge of cachexia will
continue to develop, which means HCPs must stay on top of it.

It’s apparent from the previously mentioned 2017 survey of HCPs that defining and
diagnosing cachexia is not well understood. Lead author and professor in the
department of medicine at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, Maurizio Muscaritoli,
MD, says, “The recent definition, classification, and diagnostic criteria for cancer
cachexia clearly describe cancer cachexia as spectrum of conditions, ranging from
pre‐cachexia, to cachexia, and refractory cachexia.”

In a nutshell, that means that we don’t have to wait until a patient is dying to determine
that they have cachexia.

How to Deal with Cachexia
“…treatment of cachexia should not be considered peculiar of palliative care medicine.”
—Maurizio Muscaritoli, MD

Palliative care is important. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is “an
approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the
problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of
suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of
pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”

Where in there does it say consider a problem a sign of death and don’t treat it? In fact,
it says “early identification” and “impeccable assessment and treatment”.

Palliative care is an approach, not a place where we assign patients with the cachexia
mark of death. Yes, cachexia patients need palliative care, but what cachexia patients
need most — like with any other disease — is to not be cachexia patients. There’s only
one way to begin to do that: Stop treating cachexia like a death sentence and get on
with finding a novel approach to preventing and treating it.

New Ways to Stop Cachexia
“Many oncologists think that a cachectic patient is a profoundly wasted and almost
moribund patient. Cachexia is not to be seen as unavoidable, but rather as a partially
preventable cancer comorbidity.” —Maurizio Muscaritoli, MD

To change the way health care professionals, patients and their caregivers, and the
public view cachexia — and not as a sign of death — it is going to take experts who
believe it is worth the resources to continue to seek out new solutions.

Many drugs have been tried in the treatment of cachexia along the way. Corticosteroids,
progestins, NSAIDs and thalidomide, to name a few, showed some improvement in
areas of cachexia, but often at the expense of side effects that outweighed the benefits.
Not good enough, since cachexia is already a complex condition that needs no more
wrenches thrown in.

Researchers believe it’s a novel solution that will change how we view and treat
cachexia. Cachexinol is one such next-generation treatment for cachexia.

Can Wasting Syndrome Be Reversed?
Mice with Cancer Cachexia Recover with Cachexinol
Cachexinol is a patent-pending curcumin-based formula that has two mouse studies
showing mice with cancer tumor-induced cachexia live for the full length of time and
regain weight.

Using a proprietary liposome technology, Cachexinol was developed by an award-
winning chemist and is clinically proven to increase nutrient absorption. It bypasses
digestion, and therefore can often circumvent nutritional impact symptoms, like poor
appetite and nausea.

Researchers are still studying exactly how Cachexinol works, but it’s believed to have
to do with immune function and metabolism, two of the major contributing causes of
cachexia.

When something new like Cachexinol comes along, that packages the therapeutic
benefits of a natural spice in a custom developed delivery package (liposome) and is
guaranteed to get it into the bloodstream … it’s important that patients, caregivers, and
their care team know and discuss it as an option moving forward.

You have the right to talk with your doctor about new options. Just like you have the
right, along with our researchers, to believe that cachexia is not just a sign of death, but
a treatable, reversible disease that with treatments like Cachenxinol can give patients a
fighting chance.

Relevant Facts We Need To Know About Cancer Cachexia

Cachexia is a type of wasting disorder and its effects include abrupt excessive weight loss and loss of muscle mass. When a person has Cachexia, he doesn’t just lose the muscles but the fat component of the body as well. This type of disorder is developed by patients who have more serious chronic illnesses like that of HIV-AIDS, chronic renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, etc.

In Cachexia, weight loss is involuntary, unlike other types of weight loss. People with this type of condition lose weight and become emaciated due to poor nutritional intake brought about by several reasons which makes them lose their appetite or change their metabolism and nutritional absorption. When there are fewer nutrients, the body tries to compensate and because of this mechanism, the body itself breaks down the fats and the muscle tissues in the body resulting in severe wasting; hence severe weight loss. This condition doesn’t just worsen the condition of cancer patients but greatly interferes with their quality of life because it can worsen the side effects of the necessary cancer treatments. Cachexia worsens cancer fatigue and this can be bothersome in some patients.

When a person is diagnosed with a medical condition like cancer, the body has its natural way of responding to the inflammation caused by the disease and the chemical substances being produced as a result of the disease process; and because of this, the person’s appetite is severely affected which results to massive caloric burning.

However, in some research made by medical professionals, Cachexia is viewed not as a disease or disorder but the body’s normal compensatory mechanism when the body is stricken by a serious illness.

There are three diverse classes of Cachexia, and these are:

  1. Precachexia. The person falls under this type when he loses five percent (5%) of his body weight during the course of his illness. This category is most commonly accompanied by metabolic changes, loss of appetite, and inflammation.
  2. Cachexia. When a person loses more than five percent (5%) of his total body weight in a span of a year or over without having to do the diet in an attempt to lose weight and the person has a diagnosed medical condition or disorder. This category involves signs and symptoms like the presence of inflammatory disorders, easy fatigability, muscle strength loss and loss of appetite.
  3. Refractory Cachexia. This is the type of Cachexia that cancer patients have. Other than the severe weight loss, manifestations include loss of muscle mass and function, with response failure to cancer treatments.

Based on studies, the risk factors or identified causes of cachexia are:

  1. Tumor factors are substances secreted or produced by the tumor
  2. Host response or the body’s natural response to the cancer cells or tumors
  3. The immune response of the body towards cancer
  4. Other underlying causes are still being identified by the experts

Cancer Cachexia is a complex wasting disorder or syndrome defined by symptoms such as anemia, anorexia, weight loss, and asthenia. This syndrome has complex or multifaceted pathogenicity because the host-tumor factors are to be considered.

The cancer-induced cachexia is a paraneoplastic condition and is present in almost eighty percent (80%) of all cancer patients who are in the late stages of the disease; this syndrome is responsible for the death of over 20% of all cancer patients globally. Simply explained, the cachexia is iatrogenic and may be brought about by the host’s response to the substances that the tumors produce. The substances released by these tumors suppress the appetite of the cancer patients, so cancer itself contributes to wasting. Second, the person’s response to cancer treatments like the chemotherapy and radiotherapy causes symptoms like nausea and vomiting because of the damage of the cells in the digestive tract; these responses to treatments make it harder for patients to eat and absorb the nutrients thereby causing the breakdown of muscle and fat tissues to keep the body functioning.

For a person to be diagnosed with such syndrome, it has been mentioned that there should be a weight loss of more than five percent (5%) of the total body weight within the last 12 months without having to diet to intentionally lose the extra pounds. The person has to be with a diagnosed disease or health disorder. Furthermore, the person has to manifest at least three (3) of the following:

  1. Loss of muscle strength
  2. Easy fatigability
  3. Anorexia or loss of appetite
  4. Below normal fat-free mass index calculated based on the body weight, height, and body fat
  5. Laboratory tests showing high levels of inflammation
  6. Low red blood cell levels or anemia
  7. Depleted levels of protein or albumin in the blood

Doctors base the patient’s prognosis based on the cancer cachexia signs and symptoms. In cancer patients, cachexia is considered to be an irreversible syndrome which is why treatments are symptomatic in nature. There is no particular treatment modality to treat cancer cachexia. Fundamentally, the goal of the treatment is the improvement of the symptoms and the person’s quality of life. Most physicians choose to employ treatments or therapies such as the following:

  1. Megestrol Acetate to improve the patient’s appetite
  2. Dronabinol to relieve nausea and improve mood and appetite
  3. Anti-inflammatory agents to treat inflammation
  4. Nutritional supplements
  5. Diet modifications
  6. Exercises (as applicable)

Most people just focus on the cancer treatments, however, cachexia may be a serious condition that would need prompt treatment to improve cancer treatment response. A matter of fact is that most patients with cancer who have cachexia are less likely to respond to chemotherapy and other treatments to be able to survive. Cachexia may truly cause overserious complications such as very low quality of life because patients develop depression and anxiety because they feel a lot weaker every day. Patients know that there is no particular treatment for cachexia which is why they have a worse outlook in life.

However, researchers and companies like Cachexinol are supporting the development of drugs to reverse the wasting process especially in patients with cachexia. Innovations are in progress in developing treatments that could help protect and reconstruct muscle mass as well as increase weight gain in patients with this type of wasting syndrome.

Hydrazine Sulfate – Dr Joseph Gold Cachexia Treatment?

Dr Joseph Gold, the developer of hydrazine sulfate Cachexia Treatment?

The story of the development, and subsequent quashing, of hydrazine sulfate has all the drama and intrigue of an HBO movie. It is just one of the many drugs and formulas the National Cancer Institute buried for years. They also killed 50% of those involved in the experimental group of their phony study.

Subsequent patient studies show that Hydrazine Sulfate works (saves lives) greater than fifty percent of the time. Russia uses it freely today in many cancer programs.

Dr Joseph Gold, the developer of hydrazine sulfate, sent us a ton of information, for which we are forever grateful. Here is a short synopsis of the story.

Dr Joseph Gold is an MD. He was also a research scientist for NASA, a US Air Force officer. When he left the military with a Presidential Citation from Eisenhower for his work in the space program, he had one goal, to answer the question: Is there a chemical way to stop cachexia?

Cachexia: in a chronic infection/chronic disease, the patient’s temperature rises, the CD4 count drops below the CD8 count, and the appetite wanes until the patient develops pathological anorexia. The body still needs nourishment, so it begins breaking down its fat stores, the process of glycogenesis, and also begins to break down proteins to deliver these sugar precursors, the ones produced by glycogenesis, to the body. The metabolism of tumor/cancer cells is much less efficient than those of normal cells: normal cells metabolize aerobically, using oxygen, which is 15 times more efficient than cancer cells that metabolize anaerobically, through a process of fermentation. Fermentation, being less efficient, requires much more sugar than aerobically metabolizing cells. Additionally, the metabolism rate of a tumor is much higher than that of normal cells, so the amount of sugar needed is still greater. Eventually the patient dies trying to feed the tumor. Starvation is the major cause of death in cancer and AIDS patients.

Warning! Hydrazine Sulfate is an MAOI (Momoamine Oxidase Inhibitor). What it does is inhibit an enzyme that breaks down monoamines (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine), those brain chemicals that make us happy. MAO inhibitors have been used as antidepressants. However, MAOs have another job in the body: they metabolize tyramine, an amino acid. When taking an MAO inhibitor, tyramine is not broken down, and eating foods with tyramine can raise your blood pressure and heart beat dramatically and cause the worst headache you’ve ever experienced. This is a very dangerous condition, especially for someone already battling cancer. Most of the foods containing tayramine are not on the cancer diet plan, and you should be avoiding them anyway.

Foods containing tyramine are (mainly) aged, fermented, or pickled, such as most cheeses (except cottage cheese, cream cheese, and fresh Mozzerlla), lunch meats, hot dogs, yogurt, wines and beers. Here is a pretty good list of foods that contain tyramine:

 

How Do People Describe Cachexia?

“I was five feet from him before he could figure out who it was. I cried, because he was a very, very good friend of mine. It seemed to confirm the fact that I was so skinny.”

cachexia patient quote from the article Psychosocial impact of cancer cachexia 

How is cachexia defined?

Cachexia was officially defined in 2011 by a group of international experts as “a multifactorial syndrome defined by an ongoing loss of skeletal muscle mass (with or without loss of fat mass) that can be partially but not entirely reversed by conventional nutritional support.”

But if you are trying to find out if you or your loved one has cachexia, or if you are wondering what to expect from cachexia, you probably feel like there’s more to understand about the wasting condition beyond its clinical definition. Some experts in the field of cachexia like Susan B. Hopkinson and Susan McClement agree. Their research has included the observation, gathering, and review of the personal experiences of patients and their family members in hopes to help other patients and healthcare professionals understand what it means to live with cachexia.

The aim of this article is to describe cachexia for patients and their loved ones. The clinical impacts of cachexia, as with many diseases, also come with emotional and social impacts that can, in turn, negatively affect a patient’s health, ability to be treated, and their quality of life. You should know that cachexia patients report a decreased sense of dignity in their experience with cachexia. Understanding, listening, and discussing the human experience surrounding cachexia helps all involved better understand cachexia from a full perspective.

Cachexia seems to fall into two modes of interpretation. In one, it is regarded as synonymous with death, from which there is no coming back. And in the other, where family members of patients usually set up camp, it is a place where the reality of cachexia must be denied and where calories must be forced into the patient at all costs in order to bring them back from the brink of death.

But what if it didn’t have to be either way? What if we told you that there was a new option, Cachexinol, that has already proven to reverse cachexia in mice with cancer, even while they still have tumors?

How Do People Describe Cachexia?

Cachexia patients describe several contributing factors responsible for their loss of dignity, but the greatest one is caused by their change in appearance.

Appearance

Of course the most common symptom of cachexia is the one that is most recognizable: weight loss. This is due to muscle wasting with or without fat loss. Keep in mind, apparent weight loss is not an across the board characteristic of cachexia. Patients with cardiac cachexia sometimes appear to gain weight because a failing heart can cause your body to retain water and swell. But for many cachexia patients, like the one quoted at the beginning of this article, their bodies undergo such a change from muscle loss that they are sometimes difficult to recognize.

Cachexia causes you to look emaciated. Ancient physician and philosopher Hippocrates described a cachexia patient as having “a sharp nose, hollow eyes, sunken temples. . . .” Indeed, some of the first signs of cachexia doctors look for are changes at the temple of the head and the emergence of more prominent bone structures. You can hear this echoed in the way this patient described cachexia:

“This bony thing shows up in the mirror every morning, and my eyes fall on this creature on the other side of the mirror.”

Loss of Control

For many, cachexia means a loss of control over their lives. This is especially so for people who are otherwise independent and patients who live alone. Although, it is no doubt difficult for anyone one, as it means needing help from others. This can lead you to feel a diminished sense of dignity as well.

Cachexia is not just measured by weight loss. It’s also measured by diminished strength and performance. In a cachetic state, your body is burning energy at higher rates. Paired with other causes like pro-inflammatory conditions and reduced appetite, the patient loses muscle and fat stores. This means loss of energy and strength. Cancer therapy can cause nausea and lack of appetite. Platinum chemotherapies can cause direct muscle damage … all of these things conspire to weaken a cachexia patient.

It might start with not being able to walk the dog as far as usual. Then housework becomes challenging. Pretty soon showering and grooming are difficult. And one day, you need someone with you when you stand.

When you can no longer exercise, go to the grocery store, fix your own meals … you don’t feel in control. Being able to do for ourselves is something we as a society value and something that the cachexia patient, like this one, has to surrender:

“I don’t like being weak … frustrated, awfully frustrated about it … Sometimes I can’t even open these bottles. I haven’t the strength to open it … I’ve forgotten all about this independence.” 

Isolation

According to McClement who has observed many patients and their families in her research in the cachexia field, change in physical appearance is accompanied by change in social encounters and relationships.

When you have an emaciated appearance, you can’t escape the reactions of others. This can lead to a decreased sense of self and a desire to avoid others and social situations. Cachexia patients may feel like they make others uncomfortable. Also, socializing is often centered around food, and you may not be able to stomach the sight or smell of food.

The other thing that causes cachexia patients to isolate is being constantly pestered by others to eat. Incessant nagging from caring loved ones becomes unbearable, and you eventually may just prefer to avoid company altogether.

Being a Burden

Cachexia patients, especially those who were previously independent often feel like a burden to their loved ones. When you are not eating, your family is worried and might seem continuously preoccupied with your wasting. You know you are the cause of their worry, which can lead to an even more diminished sense of self by way of guilt and helplessness.

In our world, in Western culture, physical appearance relates directly to identity, worthiness, control, and self-discipline. The visible wasting of cachexia symbolizes not only a failure in health, but emotional and social failing as well.

As harsh as these realities may be, they are how cachexia patients describe living with cachexia. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Could Cachexinol Bring Back Dignity and Quality of Life?

Cachexinol is a patent-pending curcumin-based formula that has multiple mouse studies showing mice with cancer tumor-induced cachexia live for the full length of time and regain weight.

Using a proprietary liposome technology, Cachexinol was developed by an award-winning chemist and is clinically proven to increase nutrient absorption. It bypasses digestion, and therefore can often circumvent nutritional impact symptoms, like poor appetite and nausea.

Cachexinol was developed to give patients a fighting chance against all of the dignity- and quality of life-decreasing experiences you just read above. And to give patients a fighting chance against their primary disease. The way is not force-feeding, nor is it giving in and resolving ourselves to an inevitable death sentence by cachexia. Researcher believe he way is through new approaches in treatment with next-generation options, ones like Cachexinol.

When something new like Cachexinol comes along, that packages the therapeutic benefits of a natural spice in a custom developed delivery package (liposome) and is guaranteed to get it into the bloodstream … it’s important that patients, caregivers, and their care team know and discuss it as an option moving forward.

You have the right to talk with your doctor about new options. Just like you have the right, along with our researchers, to believe that it’s possible to reverse cachexia.

Cachexia (wasting syndrome)

Relevant Facts We Need To Know About Cancer Cachexia

Cachexia is a type of wasting disorder and its effects include abrupt excessive weight loss and loss of muscle mass. When a person has Cachexia, he doesn’t just lose the muscles but the fat component of the body as well. This type of disorder is developed by patients who have more serious chronic illnesses like that of HIV-AIDS, chronic renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, etc.

In Cachexia, weight loss is involuntary, unlike other types of weight loss. People with this type of condition lose weight and become emaciated due to poor nutritional intake brought about by several reasons which makes them lose their appetite or change their metabolism and nutritional absorption. When there are fewer nutrients, the body tries to compensate and because of this mechanism, the body itself breaks down the fats and the muscle tissues in the body resulting in severe wasting; hence severe weight loss. This condition doesn’t just worsen the condition of cancer patients but greatly interferes with their quality of life because it can worsen the side effects of the necessary cancer treatments. Cachexia worsens cancer fatigue and this can be bothersome in some patients.

When a person is diagnosed with a medical condition like cancer, the body has its natural way of responding to the inflammation caused by the disease and the chemical substances being produced as a result of the disease process; and because of this, the person’s appetite is severely affected which results to massive caloric burning.

However, in some research made by medical professionals, Cachexia is viewed not as a disease or disorder but the body’s normal compensatory mechanism when the body is stricken by a serious illness.

There are three diverse classes of Cachexia, and these are:

  1. Precachexia. The person falls under this type when he loses five percent (5%) of his body weight during the course of his illness. This category is most commonly accompanied by metabolic changes, loss of appetite, and inflammation.
  2. Cachexia. When a person loses more than five percent (5%) of his total body weight in a span of a year or over without having to do the diet in an attempt to lose weight and the person has a diagnosed medical condition or disorder. This category involves signs and symptoms like the presence of inflammatory disorders, easy fatigability, muscle strength loss and loss of appetite.
  3. Refractory Cachexia. This is the type of Cachexia that cancer patients have. Other than the severe weight loss, manifestations include loss of muscle mass and function, with response failure to cancer treatments.

Based on studies, the risk factors or identified causes of cachexia are:

  1. Tumor factors are substances secreted or produced by the tumor
  2. Host response or the body’s natural response to the cancer cells or tumors
  3. The immune response of the body towards cancer
  4. Other underlying causes are still being identified by the experts

Cancer Cachexia is a complex wasting disorder or syndrome defined by symptoms such as anemia, anorexia, weight loss, and asthenia. This syndrome has complex or multifaceted pathogenicity because the host-tumor factors are to be considered.

The cancer-induced cachexia is a paraneoplastic condition and is present in almost eighty percent (80%) of all cancer patients who are in the late stages of the disease; this syndrome is responsible for the death of over 20% of all cancer patients globally. Simply explained, the cachexia is iatrogenic and may be brought about by the host’s response to the substances that the tumors produce. The substances released by these tumors suppress the appetite of the cancer patients, so cancer itself contributes to wasting. Second, the person’s response to cancer treatments like the chemotherapy and radiotherapy causes symptoms like nausea and vomiting because of the damage of the cells in the digestive tract; these responses to treatments make it harder for patients to eat and absorb the nutrients thereby causing the breakdown of muscle and fat tissues to keep the body functioning.

For a person to be diagnosed with such syndrome, it has been mentioned that there should be a weight loss of more than five percent (5%) of the total body weight within the last 12 months without having to diet to intentionally lose the extra pounds. The person has to be with a diagnosed disease or health disorder. Furthermore, the person has to manifest at least three (3) of the following:

  1. Loss of muscle strength
  2. Easy fatigability
  3. Anorexia or loss of appetite
  4. Below normal fat-free mass index calculated based on the body weight, height, and body fat
  5. Laboratory tests showing high levels of inflammation
  6. Low red blood cell levels or anemia
  7. Depleted levels of protein or albumin in the blood

Doctors base the patient’s prognosis based on the cancer cachexia signs and symptoms. In cancer patients, cachexia is considered to be an irreversible syndrome which is why treatments are symptomatic in nature. There is no particular treatment modality to treat cancer cachexia. Fundamentally, the goal of the treatment is the improvement of the symptoms and the person’s quality of life. Most physicians choose to employ treatments or therapies such as the following:

  1. Megestrol Acetate to improve the patient’s appetite
  2. Dronabinol to relieve nausea and improve mood and appetite
  3. Anti-inflammatory agents to treat inflammation
  4. Nutritional supplements
  5. Diet modifications
  6. Exercises (as applicable)

Most people just focus on the cancer treatments, however, cachexia may be a serious condition that would need prompt treatment to improve cancer treatment response. A matter of fact is that most patients with cancer who have cachexia are less likely to respond to chemotherapy and other treatments to be able to survive. Cachexia may truly cause overserious complications such as very low quality of life because patients develop depression and anxiety because they feel a lot weaker every day. Patients know that there is no particular treatment for cachexia which is why they have a worse outlook in life.

However, researchers and companies like Cachexinol are supporting the development of drugs to reverse the wasting process especially in patients with cachexia. Innovations are in progress in developing treatments that could help protect and reconstruct muscle mass as well as increase weight gain in patients with this type of wasting syndrome.