Purpose of review
This article highlights recent developments in the area of cancer cachexia and therapeutic interventions.
Therapeutic interventions in cancer cachexia have been guided by clinical studies focused on the central role of muscle and the increased use of CT imaging to measure the impact of skeletal muscle loss on clinical outcomes. At the translational level, a number of different model systems have emphasized the importance of blockade of tumor-induced inflammation and its potential impact on reversing the cachexia phenotype, including FN14, a receptor in the TNF pathway, as well as the parathyroid hormone-related protein. Clinical studies continue to demonstrate the importance of nutrition and exercise as part of a multimodality approach. Although a number of promising agents are being evaluated, both enobosarm, a selected androgen receptor modulator, and anamorelin, a ghrelin agonist have completed phase III trials. Both agents have shown significant impact on reversal of skeletal muscle loss, but inconsistent effect on physical function improvement. Anamorelin also has a positive effect on appetite and weight gain.
Further analysis of these studies, along with regulatory guidance, will be critical in the further development of these and other promising agents in the clinical management of patients with cancer cachexia.