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Adam Lelbach, Gyorgyi Muzes, Janos Feher
Med Sci Monit 2007; 13(9): RA168-173
The development of cancer cachexia is perhaps the most common manifestation of advanced malignant diseases and has been recognized as a poor prognostic sign. The abnormalities associated with the condition include progressive weight loss, anorexia, asthenia, and anemia. The degree of cachexia is inversely correlated with the survival time of the patient and always implies a poor prognosis. Currently there is no established mechanism for cancer cachexia, but the severe metabolic disturbances and marked alterations in carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism in the host finally lead to an increased energy deficiency. Weight loss, the key feature of cachexia, is due to a reduction of food intake, an increase in energy expenditure, or a combination of the two. A variety of changes in nutrient metabolism have been described in patients with cancer cachexia. Patients frequently exhibit a relative glucose intolerance and insulin resistance with increased activity of the Cori cycle. The cancer-bearing state affects protein synthesis and breakdown in different tissues of the body in a different manner. An acute-phase protein response can be presented in a significant proportion of patients with cancer with disease progression. A variety of proinflammatory cytokines appears to play a role in aspects of cachexia and a complex network of cytokines in combination with other factors might be involved. Aside from potential humoral mediators of cachexia, tumor-derived biologically active molecules have been reported recently.