Anorexia and cachexia are major clinical problems seen in a large proportion of patients with advanced cancer. Weight loss has also been identified as an indicator of poor prognosis in cancer patients. Around 20% of patients with advanced cancer present mortality from the effects of malnutrition rather than from cancer itself. Early nutrition intervention has seen to improve outcomes in cancer patients such as weight gain, treatment tolerance, and improved quality of life (QoL). Effective therapies for addressing these threatening conditions are lacking. Pharmacotherapeutic agents such as corticosteroids, megestrol acetate, and cyproheptadine have several adverse reactions and also lack satisfactory results. Rasayana therapy is known to prevent loss of body mass and at the same time help to improve appetite and increase patient's QoL. The Rasayana compound used by us to prevent cachexia mainly includes swarna sindoor, Hirak bhasma, and suvarna bhasma. To evaluate benefits of Rasayana therapy on these variables, we maintain complete documentation of different clinical variables in all cancer patients. Here, in this observational study, we analyzed the data collected from a group of stage IV breast cancer patients (n = 30) receiving Rasayana therapy. Patients were followed at an interval of every 15 days from baseline for 3 months. Furthermore, at each visit, there weight was recorded on calibrated digital weight balance. QoL in these patients was recorded at quarterly interval using functional assessment of cancer therapies questionnaire. It was seen that in the duration of 3 months patients appetite increased significantly (P = 0.03). Significant weight gain was seen in patients (P = 0.04). Significant improvement was also seen in QoL especially related to QoL subdomains of physical wellbeing (P = 0.01), emotional wellbeing (P < 0.04), and functional wellbeing (P < 0.001). Rasayana therapy was seen to be well tolerated by all patients.
Keywords: Anorexia; Rasayana; cachexia; cancer.