Purpose of review: The challenge with cancer cachexia is that it is not fully reversed by nutrition support. The purpose of this review is to provide an opinion on the nutritional management of cancer cachexia based on the most recent available evidence.
Recent findings: There continues to be a paucity of nutrition intervention studies in patients with cancer cachexia. In patients with cancer undergoing radiotherapy, there is strong evidence that nutrition counseling increases dietary intake, body weight, nutritional status and quality of life with some suggestion that dietary counseling may improve nutrition impact symptoms, treatment response and survival. In patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, the evidence is less clear. The use of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have some positive effects in patients with cancer; however, clinical judgment and care need to be taken in its application.
Preliminary results of studies in the use of L-carnitine in improving fatigue are promising; however, the largest trial in 'healthy' cancer patients showed no benefit.
Summary: Further research into the most appropriate methods for identifying and treating cancer cachexia is required. Regardless of whether patients are experiencing reduced dietary intake resulting in malnutrition or due to cachexia, nutrition remains a cornerstone of multimodal treatment.