Journal Mobile

N Bennani-Baiti, D Walsh
Journal Issue: 
Volume 39: Issue 3: 2009




Cancer  anorexia-cachexia  syndrome  (CACS)  is  a  lethal  but  poorly defined involuntary wasting disorder. Loss of skeletal muscle and fat distinguishes it  from  starvation.  Cachexia  has  been  described  as  a  clinical  syndrome  since ancient times, and the poor prognosis has long been acknowledged. In this article we have reviewed historical perspectives on cancer cachexia, and commented on modern  definitions.  In  cancer  cachexia,  most  historical  descriptions  included anorexia,  wasting  and  a  pale  complexion.  Other  associated  symptoms,  such  as fatigue,  early  satiety  and  taste  changes,  were  inconsistently  described.  Newer descriptions have not significantly expanded the clinical picture. Today, there is still no  consensus  definition,  hindering  research  on  early  diagnosis  and  effective therapy.  The  language  descriptors  used  to  characterise  the  syndrome  are important.  For  example,  the  word ‘cachexia’  itself  may  mislead;  perhaps  cancer-related wasting syndrome is more accurate. Cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome is a disorder associated with high morbidity and mortality, and deserves greater attention in both clinical and translational research.