Cancer cachexia – adopting a systems wide approach : Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care

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TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH IN WASTING DISEASES: PART 2: Edited by Mariëlle P Engelen and Barbara van der Meij

Cancer cachexia – adopting a systems wide approach

Sayers, Juditha,b,c; Skipworth, Richard JE.c; Laird, Barry JA.a,b

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Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 26(4):p 393-398, July 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000951


Purpose of review 

Cancer cachexia results in the death of approximately 2 million people worldwide annually. Despite the impact of this devastating condition, there is limited therapy and no standard of care. Although multiple definitions exist, confusion remains as a true understanding of the biology has not yet been achieved and distinct phases of cachexia have not been examined. Research has mainly focused on weight loss and muscle wasting, but cachexia is increasingly recognized as a multiorgan disorder involving adipose tissue, liver, brain, gut and heart, with systemic inflammation a central unifying feature.

Recent findings 

In this review, we will discuss some of the extra-muscular features and multisystem interactions in cachexia, and describe how moving our focus beyond muscle can lead to a greater understanding of the mechanisms and clinical features seen in cachexia.


We describe the need for robust characterization of patients with cachexia, to allow clinical phenotypes and multisystem mechanisms to be untangled, and to enable the implementation of multimodal treatment strategies.

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