In their paper, the researchers describe how they compiled and tested a tool to “stage cancer cachexia patients and predict clinical, nutritional and functional outcomes.”
The tool comprises five criteria – available from routinely available clinical measures and laboratory tests.These include: results from biochemical analyses; measures of food intake and weight loss; and an assessment of patient functioning or performance status.
The team hopes the tool will be available for clinical use within the next few years. Before then, however, more studies are required to validate the new findings.
As well as cancer cachexia, the researchers hope the tool can eventually be applied to weight loss and muscle-wasting that is typically also seen in the late stages of many major diseases. These include: heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), kidney disease, AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and tuberculosis (TB).
Dr. Vigano notes, however, that treatments will only be useful if doctors can diagnose cachexia and understand the severity of each case.
“Research is still needed to understand all the causes of cachexia. Unless we can talk the same language in terms of what type of patients we are treating and the severity of their condition, it is often very difficult to make substantial progress.”
Source: Medical News Today.