Sarcopenia, Malnutrition, and Cachexia: Adapting Definitions and Terminology of Nutritional Disorders in Older People with Cancer

Nutrients. 2021 Feb 26;13(3):761. doi: 10.3390/nu13030761.


The recent publication of the revised Consensus on definition and diagnosis of sarcopenia (EWGSOP2) and the Global Leadership Initiative on Malnutrition (GLIM) criteria changed the approach to research on sarcopenia and malnutrition. Whilst sarcopenia is a nutrition-related disease, malnutrition and cachexia are nutritional disorders sharing the common feature of low fat-free mass. However, they have differential characteristics and etiologies, as well as specific therapeutic approaches. Applying the current definitions in clinical practice is still a challenge for health professionals and the potential for misdiagnosis is high. This is of special concern in the subgroup of older people with cancer, in which sarcopenia, malnutrition, and cancer cachexia are highly prevalent and can overlap or occur separately. The purpose of this review is to provide an updated overview of the latest research and consensus definitions of sarcopenia, malnutrition, and cachexia and to discuss their implications for clinical practice in older patients with cancer. The overall aim is to improve the quality of nutritional care in light of the latest findings.

Keywords: cachexia; cancer; malnutrition; muscle mass; older people.; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cachexia / diagnosis*
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Consensus
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis*
  • Sarcopenia / etiology
  • Terminology as Topic*