Cachexia in cancer patients

Michael J. Tisdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cachexia — the massive (up to 80%) loss of both adipose tissue and skeletal muscle mass — is a significant factor in the poor performance status and high mortality rate of cancer patients. Although this metabolic defect has been known since cancer was first studied, it is only recently that major advances have been made in the identification of catabolic factors that act to destroy host tissues during the cachectic process. Although anorexia is frequently present, depression of food intake alone seems not to be responsible for the wasting of body tissues, as nutritional supplementation or pharmacological manipulation of appetite is unable to reverse the catabolic process — particularly with respect to skeletal muscle. However, recent clinical studies in cancer patients have shown that nutritional supplementation can be effective when combined with agents that attenuate the action of tumour factors and modifiers of the central effects on appetite might also show promise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-871
Number of pages10
JournalNature Reviews: Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002


  • cachexia
  • adipose tissue
  • skeletal muscle mass
  • mortality rate
  • cancer patients
  • cancer
  • catabolic factors
  • catabolic process
  • skeletal muscle
  • nutritional supplementation


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