A race against time to diagnose deadly weight loss in cancer patients
MUHC researchers hope to save lives by giving doctors a tool to diagnose cachexia – a serious health condition associated with cancer and many chronic diseases
Nov 4, 2016
About one third of cancer patients die because of cachexia – an involuntary weight loss, characterized primarily by muscle wasting and metabolic changes, which cannot be addressed or treated solely with increased food intake. A study by researchers at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), published in Clinical Nutrition, aims to save patient lives by giving doctors a practical tool to easily diagnose cachexia before it becomes irreversible.
Cachexia is a serious health condition that goes beyond simple weight loss. Clinicians and scientists have been trying to better understand and treat this condition for many years. It is often associated with poor responses to oncological treatments, increased hospitalizations, and has been shown to be a major burden to family caregivers. It is still largely overlooked and untreated in many oncology centres. Patients with this condition eventually experience a decline of their overall health to a point where it cannot be reversed by eating more or taking nutritional supplements. Despite recent advancements in research, cachexia remains very difficult to alleviate or treat. Read more