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Supportive Care: Cachexia, Anorexia Syndrome

  • Michael John Tisdale
Part of the M. D. Anderson Solid Tumor Oncology Series book series (MDA)

Patients with pancreatic cancer have a high frequency of cachexia (85%) (1), which is characterized by progressive weight loss and depletion of both adipose tissue and skeletal muscle mass. Even at the time of diagnosis, weight loss is apparent (median 14.2% of pre-illness stable weight), and this weight loss is progressive in the absence of effective treatment, increasing to a median of 24.5% over a 6-month period (2). Death normally occurs when the weight loss reaches about 30%, and is likely due to impairment of respiratory muscle function through loss of lean body mass, which decreases from 43.4 to 40.1 kg (2). There is also a substantive loss of body fat from 12.5 to 9.6 kg. In a study to establish factors influencing survival of cancer patients after diagnosis of terminal cancer of the lung, breast, and GI tract, shorter survival was independently associated with a weight loss of >8.1 kg in the previous 6 months and serum albumin levels of <35 g/L (3). In patients with advanced pancreatic cancer there is also a strong inverse relationship between the severity of weight loss and the performance score (4). In addition to the poor survival, patients with weight loss have a lower probability of responding to palliative chemotherapy and a lower quality of life as well as problems with pain or fatigue (5).

Keywords

Pancreatic Cancer Lean Body Mass Brown Adipose Tissue Pancreatic Cancer Patient Cancer Cachexia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael John Tisdale
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Life and Health SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK

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