What Is Cancer Cachexia and How Is It Managed?

May 20, 2020
Brielle Gregory, ASCO staff

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published a new guideline on the management of cancer cachexia on May 20, 2020. Cancer cachexia is also called wasting, which means the person with cancer experiences both weight loss and muscle loss.

In this podcast, Charles Loprinzi, MD, FASCO, and Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, who both served on the expert panel for this guideline, discuss what people with cancer and their family caregivers should know about cachexia and what these new ASCO recommendations mean.

  • What is cancer cachexia, and how common is it? [2:28]

  • What causes cancer cachexia? [4:02]

  • What are some of the problems that can come from cancer cachexia? [4:58]

  • How can a patient’s loss of appetite affect family members and loved ones? Should they encourage patients to eat more? [6:17]

  • How often should tubes be inserted into the patient’s stomach to provide nutritional feedings? [9:21]

  • How often should nutrition be given through the veins (intravenously) to people with advanced cancer cachexia? [11:33]

  • How is cancer cachexia treated? [13:14]

  • How can the recommendations in ASCO’s guideline on the management of cancer cachexia help improve the lives of patients? [15:35]

Dr. Charles Loprinzi is the Regis Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he is an emeritus chair of the division of medical oncology and an emeritus vice-chair of the department of oncology. Dr. Loprinzi is also the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Psychosocial Oncology. Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, is the emeritus manager of oncology social work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. A 2-time breast cancer survivor, she now works in private practice and writes a daily blog called Living with Cancer. She is also a member of the Cancer.Net Editorial Board.

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