The clinical picture of cachexia: A mosaic of different parameters (experience of 503 patients)

S. Schwarz, O. Prokopchuk, K. Esefeld, S. Gröschel, J. Bachmann, S. Lorenzen, H. Friess, M. Halle, M. E. Martignoni

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37 Scopus citations


Background: Despite our growing knowledge about the pathomechanisms of cancer cachexia, a whole clinical picture of the cachectic patient is still missing. Our objective was to evaluate the clinical characteristics in cancer patients with and without cachexia to get the whole picture of a cachectic patient. Methods: Cancer patients of the University Clinic "Klinikum rechts der Isar" with gastrointestinal, gynecological, hematopoietic, lung and some other tumors were offered the possibility to take part in the treatment concept including a nutrition intervention and an individual training program according to their capability. We now report on the first 503 patients at the time of inclusion in the program between March 2011 and October 2015. We described clinical characteristics such as physical activity, quality of life, clinical dates and food intake. Results: Of 503 patients with cancer, 131 patients (26.0%) were identified as cachectic, 369 (73.4%) as non-cachectic. The change in cachexia were 23% reduced capacity performance (108 Watt for non-cachectic-patients and 83 Watt for cachectic patients) and 12% reduced relative performance (1.53 Watt/kg for non-cachectic and 1.34 Watt/kg for cachectic patients) in ergometry test. 75.6% of non-cachectic and 54.3% of cachectic patients still received curative treatment. Conclusion: Cancer cachectic patients have multiple symptoms such as anemia, impaired kidney function and impaired liver function with elements of mild cholestasis, lower performance and a poorer quality of life in the EORTC questionnaire. Our study reveals biochemical and clinical specific features of cancer cachectic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer cachexia
  • Clinical parameters
  • Clinical picture


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