Cachexia: Why Cancer Patients Waste Away

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

One of the most pernicious conditions that arises as a consequence of cancer is a sort of wasting syndrome. More formally known as cachexia, it causes patients to lose body mass (including both muscle and fat) and to grow weak and fatigued. Whether or not a patient develops cachexia largely depends on the type of cancer he has. Those with pancreatic cancer, for instance, have an 80% chance of suffering from it, while those with breast cancer have a 40% chance. The syndrome takes such a physical toll on the patient that it is largely to blame for a fifth of all cancer deaths. Cachexia, therefore, remains one of the most heartbreaking and puzzling aspects of cancer. Continue reading