Influence of cachexia and sarcopenia on survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: a systematic review

Pancreatology. Jan-Feb 2015;15(1):19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2014.11.006. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Background/objectives: Cachexia affects ∼ 80% of pancreatic cancer patients. An international consensus defines cachexia as an ongoing loss of skeletal muscle mass (sarcopenia) with or without loss of fat, which impairs body functioning and cannot be reversed by conventional nutritional measures. Weight loss percentage and elevated inflammation markers have been employed to define this condition earlier. This review aimed to assess the prevalence and consequences of cachexia and sarcopenia on survival in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Methods: The systematic review was performed by searching the articles with preset terms published in PubMed and Cochrane Database until December 2013. After identifying relevant titles, abstracts were read and eligible articles data retrieved on preformatted sheets. The prevalence and impact of sarcopenia/cachexia on survival was evaluated.

Results: In total 1145 articles were retrieved, only 10 were eligible. Definitions of cachexia and sarcopenia were heterogeneous. In patients with normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m(2)) the prevalence of sarcopenia ranged from 29.7 to 65%. In overweight or obese patients (BMI >25 kg/m(2)) were 16.2%-67%. Sarcopenia alone was not demonstrated to be an independent factor of decreased survival, although obese sarcopenic patients were shown to have significantly worse survival in two studies.

Conclusions: Impact of cachexia and sarcopenia on survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is currently understudied in the available literature. Definitive association between cachexia and survival cannot be drawn from available studies, although weight loss and sarcopenic obesity might be considered as poor prognostic factors. Further prospective trials utilizing the consensus definition of cachexia and including other confounding factors are needed to investigate the impact of cachexia and sarcopenia on survival in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Keywords: Cachexia; Malnutrition; Pancreatic adenocarcinoma; Pancreatic neoplasm; Sarcopenia; Survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cachexia / diagnosis
  • Cachexia / epidemiology
  • Cachexia / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / mortality
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia / etiology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Weight Loss