According to the definition published by Evans et al in 2008, it is associated to an underlying illness and characterized by muscle mass loss with or without fat mass loss.
Cachexia is a multiorgan, multifactorial and often irreversible wasting syndrome. It frequently occurs at advanced stage of cancer and chronic illnesses including AIDS, chronic heart failure (CHF), chronic kidney disease (CKD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The exact mechanism in which these diseases cause cachexia is poorly understood, and likely is multifactorial with multiple disease pathways involved.
The prevalence of cachexia depends on the underlying disease and widely ranges between 15 and 90%. In cancer, the prevalence of cachexia may vary between 50 and 90% depending on the type of cancer where a clinical course of gastrointestinal or lung cancers is most frequently associated with the development of cachexia. It is associated with reduced physical function, reduced tolerance to anticancer therapy, and reduced survival.
In clinical practice weight loss in patients with cancer is rarely recognised, assessed, or managed actively.
Cachexia affects the quality of life and survival of patients. In addition, therapeutic management strategies to prevent, stop or reverse the loss of body weight and muscle mass and funtion are lacking and further research is ongoing.
A more comprehensive understanding of cachexia etiology and heterogeneity may enable the development of intervention strategies to prevent or reverse this devastating condition.
Thus, cachexia represents an important unmet need and is of great interest for the Translational medicine academy.