Cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome (CACS) is a complex metabolic syndrome, different from malnutrition and sarcopenia, which is very common in cancer patients. Treatment for CACS is based on nutritional support and CACS pathophysiology-modulating drugs. The most commonly used are megestrol acetate (MA) and corticosteroids. The efficacy of MA has been confirmed by multiple clinical trials and meta-analyses. Glucocorticoids are also effective but should only be used for short periods and in selected cases. Future strategies should include intensified research into potentially effective drugs (ω-3 fatty acids, thalidomide, cannabinoids, ghrelin, bortezomib, and COX-2 inhibitors), combined treatment and new drugs (anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibodies, melanocortin, β-2 antagonists, and androgen receptor-modulating analogues). We propose a review based on the literature on the pathophysiology of CACS, the diagnostic criteria and treatment, and future strategies.
Keywords: Anorexia; Cachexia; Cancer; Malnutrition; Megestrol acetate.
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