Cancer-Related Anorexia/Cachexia an Ongoing Challenge Despite an Increasing Range of Drug Choices

In This Article


Cancer-related anorexia/cachexia (CAC) is a constellation of symptoms which together cause a reduction in quality of life, and negatively predicts treatment outcome in patients with cancer. Of the many different factors that contribute to the development of CAC, the role of proinflammatory cytokines appears key.

Many agents have been heralded as potential treatments for CAC. However, some have been found to have no beneficial effect on bodyweight, while others are as yet unproven.

Of agents proven effective, progestogens have been most extensively evaluated in patients with CAC. Oral megestrol and medroxyprogesterone not only improve symptoms, they also improve subjective well-being. Although the body of evidence supporting the use of anticytokines, antioxidants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is more limited, these agents are likely to have an increasingly important role in the management of CAC.

Successful management of CAC may require combination drug therapy selected on the basis of the individual's underlying causative factors.