Current management of cancer-associated anorexia and weight loss

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29 Scopus citations


Loss of appetite and weight predict a poor prognosis for cancer patients. Although caloric supplementation might benefit subgroups of patients - specifically, perioperative, severely malnourished cancer patients, stem cell and bone marrow transplant patients, and head and neck cancer patients - its use remains controversial and is not recommended for the majority of patients with cancer-associated weight loss. Most patients with advanced cancer, anorexia, and/or weight loss do not appear to benefit from nutritional supplementation. Instead, discussions with patients and families about realistic eating goals and, at times, pharmacologic interventions with progestational agents or corticosteroids - both of which are aimed at palliating anorexia - provide clinical benefit. Other pharmacologic interventions such as eicosapentaenoic acid, thalidomide (Thalomid), adenosine triphosphate, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents focus on the fact that cancer-associated weight loss is an entity distinct from simple starvation. These interventions promise to replenish lean tissue but require further investigation before they can be recommended as standard clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-508
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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