[The Treatment of Cancer Cachexia]

Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 2021 Aug;48(8):987-991.
[Article in Japanese]


Cancer cachexia is defined as a multifactorial syndrome that causes anorexia and an ongoing loss of skeletal muscle mass (with or without loss of fat mass). When patients got cachexia, the effectiveness and tolerance for anti-cancer therapy is reduced, leading to their poor prognosis. Although known as such disease, there had been no effective cure for cancer cachexia. Ghrelin is a peptide hormone that promotes appetite and improve cachexia. However, there is a limitation as a drug because its half-life is short and must be intravenous injected. Anamorelin is a first novel drug, an orally active, non- peptidic ghrelin mimetic and growth hormone secretagogue approved in Japan in January 2021. Like ghrelin, anamorelin also increases the appetite and lean body mass of patients with cancer cachexia. On the other hand, in clinical trials, there was no statistical significance for increasing the 6-minute walk test distance and recovering non-dominant hand grip strength. As for the functional recovery, a new program has been developed for non-pharmacotherapy with nutritional and exercise interventions. These 2 kinds of interventions will become effective anti-cachexia therapy. Research is also underway to produce anti-cachexia drugs other than anamorelin. Somes are already in their clinical trials. Anti-cachexia therapy will be a new option for treating advanced cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia / drug therapy
  • Anorexia / etiology
  • Appetite
  • Cachexia* / drug therapy
  • Cachexia* / etiology
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / complications