Dr. Crawford Discusses Managing Cancer Cachexia

Dr. Jeffrey Crawford from Duke University Medical Center Discusses Managing Cancer-Related Cachexia

Jeffrey Crawford, MD, professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, discusses the efforts underway to better manage cancer-related cachexia, a degenerative syndrome that results in the loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia.

Crawford explains that cancer-related cachexia can be caused by both the metabolic demands of the tumor and the treatment provided. Cancer cachexia is characterized by progressive weight loss, muscle atrophy, decreased performance status, fatigue, weakness, and an inability to work or perform daily tasks.

Crawford warns that even though cancer cachexia and weight loss are related they are not always the same. In some cases, patients who seem healthy may still have significant loss in muscles mass. Cachexia can happen prior to therapy, from the cancer alone, resulting in a significant reduction in quality of life.

There currently is not an approved regimen to manage cancer cachexia; however, a host of clinical trials are underway investigating new methods, such as ghrelin antagonists to stimulate appetite and improve weight gain. Additionally, Crawford notes that phase III trials are currently studying novel selective androgen-receptor modulators (SARMs) to treat cancer cachexia.