Cachexia is a wasting disease that accompanies a wide range of serious chronic illnesses and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Cachexia is a feature of many medical conditions, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis, chronic heart failure, tuberculosis and cancer1,2.
Cachexia is defined as weight loss, associated with a chronic underlying disease, of at least 5% in 12 months or less. It is commonly associated with fatigue, loss of muscle strength and fat tissue loss associated with a range of immune, neurohormonal, metabolic and biochemical abnormalities. It is characteristically associated with negative protein loss, reduced food intake and abnormal metabolism3.
The overall prevalence of cachexia is high and growing in industrialized countries. It is estimated that cachexia affects approximately 9 million patients, which is about 1% of all patients with any disease4.
1Tisdale MJ. Mechanisms of cancer cachexia. Physiol Rev. 2009;89:381–410.
2Fearon K, Arends J, Baracos V. Understanding the mechanisms and treatment options in cancer cachexia. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2013;10:90–99.