This seemingly complicated term basically describes marked weight loss in patients with cancer that cannot be reversed by normal nutritional support. It has been described since ancient times, and is often referred to as cancer cachexia. However, due to improved understanding of its causes, it is now often called cancer anorexia-cachexia as this better defines the condition.
As everyone knows, anorexia refers to reduced food intake, or starvation. Cachexia, however, is a wasting syndrome. Cachexia is associated with cancer and other chronic diseases where sufferers lose weight and experience decline of their overall health. Thus, Cancer Cachexia also known as Cancer Anorexia Cachexia is a combination of both starvation caused by anorexia and wasting syndrome due to cachexia.
What happens during Cancer Anorexia Cachexia?
Cancer Anorexia Cachexia is due to a number of complex factors. A defining feature of cancer anorexia-cachexia is loss of muscle, but fat may be lost as well. The weight loss is involuntary, meaning that there is no desire or attempt to lose weight. In addition to muscle wasting and loss of appetite, patients who suffer from cancer anorexia-cachexia have a poor overall quality of life, and experience pain and fatigue. It also becomes more difficult for them to perform regular daily activities. Moreover, cancer anorexia-cachexia, at least in the more advanced stages, cannot be fully cured by eating more or by taking nutritional supplements.
Symptoms of Cancer Anorexia Cachexia:
- Marked weight loss
- Muscular loss
- Resistant to normal therapies
- Difficulties in performing routine activities and fatigue
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
Cancer cachexia is seen most often in patients with lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer. Involuntary weight loss, skeletal muscle wasting, loss of appetite and lowered quality of life are the most common symptoms and are seen in 50-80 percent of advanced cancer patients. These symptoms are created by substances made by the tumour, or the body’s own reaction to the tumour. Patients undergoing chemotherapy for all types of cancer have reported substantial reduction in nausea and vomiting and an increase in appetite after using medical marijuana.
Official Research Reports
Cannabinoids in the treatment of the cachexia anorexia syndrome in palliative care patients (Nauck F, Klaschik E, 2004)
Cancer cachexia and cannabinoids (Gorter RW, 1999)