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.

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.


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.” 


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.