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Pathophysiology of cancer-associated malnutrition/ cancer cachexia

Dr Tora Solheim 

Presentation Roadmap/ Summary

There are a multitude of reasons for patients with cancer to lose weight and muscle mass, one of them is cancer cachexia. This session will explain the complex pathophysiology of cancer cachexia and its consequences such as reduced appetite, excess catabolism and altered energy expenditure.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to:

  1. Understand the pathophysiological background for the development of cancer cachexia and also the importance of focusing also on other factors than cachexia contributing to weight loss
  2. Understand the impact of cachexia pathophysiology on appetite
  3. Understand the impact of cancer cachexia pathophysiology on muscle and fat tissue

Key Takeaways/ Fast Facts

  • Systemic inflammation is the driving force of multiple of the pathophysiological pathways described in cachexia
  • The cachexia pathophysiology is complex, and there are changes in multiple organs e.g. brain, gut, liver as well as muscle and adipose tissue causing a negative energy balance, weight loss and loss of physical function

Key references

  1. Baracos VE, Martin L, Korc M. Cancer-associated cachexia. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2018 Jan 18;
  2. Argiles JM, Stemmler B, Lopez-Soriano FJ, Busquets S. Inter-tissue communication in cancer cachexia. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2018; 15:9-20.
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