NCPD Article

Cancer Cachexia

Amanda French

cachexia, malnutrition, sarcopenia, anorexia, nutrition impact symptoms
CJON 2024, 28(1), 95-100. DOI: 10.1188/24.CJON.95-100

Cancer cachexia is characterized by metabolic dysregulation, inflammation, and reduced food intake, and it results in loss of skeletal muscle. Although cachexia is pervasive in patients with advanced cancer, comprehensive cachexia care is inadequate because of a lack of screening and awareness of the impact cachexia has on oncology care, including anticancer treatments, functional status, and psychosocial distress. Oncology nurses at all levels of practice need to screen for cachexia, educate patients about cachexia, monitor symptoms, facilitate interprofessional interventions, and provide psychosocial support to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for patients with cachexia.


  • Cancer cachexia remains an underappreciated problem in oncology care, contributing to a significant number of cancer-related deaths.
  • Interprofessional interventions are required to manage cachexia effectively, including nutritional counseling, physical therapy, palliative care, psychosocial interventions, and pharmacologic management.
  • Oncology nurses can screen, educate, monitor, and provide psychosocial support to patients and their caregivers throughout the continuum of cachexia care.
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