SignSymptom infobox
Name = Cachexia
ICD10 = R64
ICD9 = ICD9|799.4

Cachexia (pronEng|kəˈkɛksiə) is loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness and significant loss of appetite in someone who is not actively trying to lose weight. [cite web
title=cachexia - definition of cachexia by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
] It can be a sign of various underlying disorders; when a patient presents with cachexia, a doctor will generally consider the possibility of cancer, metabolic acidosis (from decreased protein synthesis and increased protein catabolism) certain infectious diseases (e.g. tuberculosis, AIDS) and some autoimmune disorders, or addiction to drugs such as amphetamines or cocaine.Fact|August|date=August 2008Cachexia physically weakens patients to a state of immobility stemming from loss of appetite, asthenia, and anemia, and response to standard treatment is usually poor.

Disease settings

Cachexia is often seen in end-stage cancer, and in that context is called "cancer cachexia". It was also prevalent in AIDS patients before the advent of triple-therapy for that condition; now it is seen less frequently in those countries where such treatment is available. In those patients who have Congestive Heart Failure, there is also a cachectic syndrome. Also, a cachexia co-morbidity is seen in patients that have any of the range of illnesses classified as "COPD" (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), particularly emphysema. Some severe cases of schizophrenia can present this condition where it is named "vesanic cachexia". ["Vesanic" means demented.]

In each of these settings there is full-body wasting, which hits the skeletal muscle especially hard, resulting in muscle atrophy and great muscle loss.


The exact mechanism in which these diseases cause cachexia is poorly understood, but there is probably a role for inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) -which is also nicknamed "cachexin" (also spelled cachectin) for this reason-, Interferon gamma (IFNγ), and Interleukin 6 (IL-6), as well as the tumor secreted proteolysis inducing factor (PIF).

Related malnutrition syndromes are kwashiorkor and marasmus, although these do not always have an underlying causative illness; they are most often symptomatic of severe malnutrition.

Those suffering from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa appear to have high plasma levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin levels are also high in patients who have cancer-induced cachexia (Garcia et al 2005).


See also

* Wasting

External links

* [ Manifestations] and [ treatment] of cachexia, from Cancer Medicine
* [ Scientists find key to 'wasting syndrome' seen in cancer, AIDS (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cachexia — Ca*chex i*a, Cachexy Ca*chex y, n. [L. cachexia, Gr. kachexi a; kako s bad + e xis condition.] A condition of ill health and impairment of nutrition due to impoverishment of the blood, esp. when caused by a specific morbid process (as cancer or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cachexĭa — (gr., Med.), Verkümmerung des Körpers durch üble Beschaffenheit des Blutes, s. Kachexie. Cachexia virginum (Chlorose), Bleichsucht, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • cachexia — bad general state of health, 1540s, from Mod.L. cachexia, from Gk. kakhexia bad habits, from kakos bad (see CACO (Cf. caco )) + exia, related to exis habit or state, from exein to have, be in a condition, from PIE root *segh …   Etymology dictionary

  • Cachexia — Cachexĭa, s. Kachexie. C. thyreoprīva (C. strumipriva), Ernährungsstörung nach Entartung oder Entfernung der Schilddrüse, bestehend in Anämie, Störung der Gehirnfunktionen, Anhäufung von Schleim …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cachexia — vgl. Kachexie …   Das Wörterbuch medizinischer Fachausdrücke

  • cachexia — [kə kek′sēkə kek′sē ə] n. [ModL < Gr kachexia, bad habit of body < kakos, bad + hexis, habit < echein, to have < IE base * seg̑h , to hold fast, conquer > SCHEME] a generally weakened, emaciated condition of the body, esp. as… …   English World dictionary

  • cachexia — noun Etymology: Late Latin cachexia, from Greek kachexia bad condition, from kak cac + hexis condition, from echein to have, be disposed more at scheme Date: 1541 general physical wasting and malnutrition usually associated with chronic …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cachexia — n. (also cachexy) a condition of weakness of body or mind associated with chronic disease. Etymology: F cachexie or LL cachexia f. Gk kakhexia f. kakos bad + hexis habit …   Useful english dictionary

  • cachexia — weight loss, muscle wasting, loss of appetite, and general debility, usually due to a chronic disease, or malnutrition …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • cachexia — cachectic /keuh kek tik/, cachectical, cachexic, adj. /keuh kek see euh/, n. Pathol. general ill health with emaciation, usually occurring in association with cancer or a chronic infectious disease. Also, cachexy /keuh kek see/. [1535 45; < LL <… …   Universalium

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