Identifying Cancer-Related Anorexia-Cachexia Syndrome

Nutritional status has been shown to greatly impact treatment tolerance and the long-term prognosis of patients with cancer. In 2009, approximately 20% of cancer-related deaths were caused by the effects of cancer-related anorexia-cachexia syndrome (CACS). This loss of appetite or inability to eat occurs in nearly 80% of patients with advanced cancer and significantly impacts morbidity and mortality. In a recent article, author Debra A. Walz, MS, RN, WHNP-BC, discussed the lack of awareness of CACS and the importance in identifying and addressing the condition in patients with cancer. According to Walz, nurses can play a significant role by educating patients and their families about the importance of nutrition as they are treated for their disease. She recommends that patients be informed of available interventions and treatment modalities such as nutritional counseling and pharmacologic interventions. A multimodal approach may be necessary to effectively treat patients with CACS. The article emphasized the need for oncology nurses to develop collaborative relationships with highly-skilled nutritionists, oncologists, psychotherapists, and physical therapists in order to provide patients and their families with information and help guide treatment choices. Walz added...