Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence has been shown to increase with age, an association which is clinically significant in the context of global ageing populations. Frailty, defined as increased vulnerability to stressors like surgery, is a marker associated with poor outcomes in patients with CRC. Sarcopenia, characterised by an age- and disease-related loss in muscle function and mass, has been identified as a major contributor to frailty. Patients with cancer also commonly experience cancer cachexia, i.e., loss of fat and muscle mass. This syndrome has also been associated with poorer survival rates for cancer patients. As such, both sarcopenia and cachexia constitute potentially modifiable risk factors of negative surgical outcomes.
This study aimed to examine the prevalence of preoperative sarcopenia and cachexia in a group of older (≥65 years) vulnerable patients undergoing resection for localized CRC.
Amino acid metabolism is hugely altered in tumours. Cancer cells use amino acids for energy production, which supports cell proliferation. In this sense, their amino acid dependency provides a metabolic vulnerability for treatment. Research has been aimed at starving cancerous cells of amino acids to improve cancer treatment outcomes. However, supplementing amino acids has also shown benefits both in vivo and in vitro. Further research into amino acid supplementation is needed, as deprivation exacerbates cancer cachexia, a risk best avoided in cancer treatment. Supplementing branched-chain amino acids has been proved as beneficial in hepatocellular carcinoma, and an essential amino acid rich diet has demonstrated decreased tumour growth in mice. Understanding more about amino acid metabolism in cancer may provide more efficient, personalised treatments for cancer patients.
This review by Ragni M et al. aimed to discuss amino acid deprivation and supplementation in reducing tumour growth, underscoring the complexity of the metabolic pathways involved.
Breast cancer treatments often lead to musculoskeletal morbidity; muscle loss in general is seen as a complication of breast cancer, affecting survival and quality of life. Emerging new research into the biochemical and molecular links between the skeletal and muscular systems is beginning to be taken into account, alongside the well-known anatomical relationship, to improve our understanding of these effects. This paper discussed treatments such as anti-oestrogen therapy, which deteriorates bone health and muscle mass, and the significance of these effects in lower survival rates and worse outcomes for patients. In this sense, exercise is concluded to be of aid for patients with breast cancer in improving their outcomes.
This review by Ballinger T et al. aimed to understand the relevance of musculoskeletal health to breast cancer, and the strategies that could aid patients in this disease.
Perioperative care in cancer patients is being reconsidered with our understanding of the association of sarcopenia and post-operative complications risks. Generally, there exists very little literature regarding the perioperative care of sarcopenic cancer patients. It has, however, been found that sarcopenic patients had significantly higher complication rates than that of non-sarcopenic patients. Future research needs to continue to understand the reasons behind this. Perioperative cancer also needs to be understood within various degrees of sarcopenia, through stratifying the population by muscle depletion and reduced function levels. Although nutritional support alone cannot counteract these issues that sarcopenic patients face, this approach can aid in decreasing progressive muscle mass loss, potentially lowering the risk of post-operative complications.
This review by Bozzetti F aimed to understand the relationship between sarcopenia, muscle mass loss, and nutritional interventions.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. However, incidence rates and mortality can both be significantly reduced through adhering to healthy lifestyle recommendations. In this study, 82 people were included, where their nutritional profile was evaluated to assess their risk of colorectal cancer. This is because obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for colorectal cancer, and when associated with sarcopenia, there are usually worse health outcomes. This study has therefore highlighted the need for understanding muscle composition in obese individuals when screening for cancer, as this may affect outcomes. Furthermore, this study underscores the necessity to aim for health lifestyles through weight control and physical exercise, to decrease incidence and mortality of diseases such as colorectal cancer.
This review by Santos M et al. aimed to evaluate nutritional profiles for those screening for colorectal cancer, to aid a better understanding of the risk factors behind this cancer.
In this study, 102 Japanese patients with gastrointestinal or non-small cell lung cancer with cancer cachexia were used to test anamorelin. Anamorelin is a selective ghrelin receptor agonist and is taken orally. This drug is generally known to increase appetite and was hypothesised to help with improving cancer cachexia as well as increasing the patients’ low body mass index. It was found that improvements in their body weight were durable for up to 24 weeks, and overall, the patients reported a better appetite and overall well-being. The drug was also generally well tolerated, with around 37% of patients experiencing adverse side effects. Most commonly, these included symptoms such as glycosylated haemoglobin increase, peripheral oedema and constipation.
This review by Naito T et al. aimed to understand the benefits of anamorelin in cancer cachexia patients with improving their low body mass index.
For hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, liver transplantations are considered the best treatment, as they present with a 60-80% survival rate for 5 years. Suitability for a transplant is assessed by factors such as the patient’s tumour presentation and their responses to treatments, with the Milan Criteria representing the total criteria with all additional prognostic factors. Yet, general health is rarely included into this judgement. General health, especially low muscle pass (e.g, sarcopenia) may affect survival rates for liver transplantations; this has, however, rarely been addressed. This study discovered that a higher pre-operative muscle mass contributed to an increased rate of long-term survival post-liver transplantation.
This review by Beumer B et al. aimed to determine whether adding in the consideration of muscle mass, and working beyond the Milan Criteria, may benefit our understanding of the outcomes of liver transplantations.
Weight loss is clearly related to cancer, yet there is very little data concerning when and at what stage weight loss should be considered a sign of a need to diagnose cancer. In this study of 43,302 patients, it was found that there was a linear increase in the chance of being diagnosed with cancer compared to the amount of weight lost. This finding was independent of any co-factors, such as age, sex, original weight or co-morbidities. Therefore, it is clear that the percentage of weight lost must be focused on, rather than a guideline with an arbitrary cut-off point for a cancer diagnosis. It could be possible to trigger an alert for patients who lose certain percentages of weight over specified periods of time.
This review by Nicholson B et al aimed to understand the diagnostic value of weight loss in relationship to cancer.
Cancer is often associated with cachexia, a wasting syndrome which is multifactorial and cannot be resolved with simple nutritional aid. It causes loss of muscle mass and is the cause of death for almost a third of cancer patients. However, cachexia is very complex. This muscle-wasting disorder has many underlying mechanisms, whether cancer-induced or chemotherapy induced. Heighted protein catabolism and reduced anabolism, as well as disrupted energy metabolism, are associated with cachexia, but the mechanisms underlying these changes are not fully known. Inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be important within the mechanisms.
This review by Huot J et al. aimed to evaluate the mechanisms underlying cancer cachexia, particularly discussing the role of oxidative stress.
For patients with advanced-stage cancer, weight loss and lower body mass index has been associated with shorter rates of survival. On the other hand, obesity has been associated with longer survival. Weight loss or cachexia could therefore be used as a prognostic tool, although it has not yet been studied much in clinical trials. It is predicted to be due to the fact that decreased muscle mass is a predictor of shortened survival, as well as lowered nutrient stores and activity level. However, further research is required into understanding weight loss in relation to cancer survival rates, especially in the context of therapies such as chemotherapy, as it is not fully known how this interacts with body mass.
This review by Oswalt C et al. aimed to explore the relationship between body mass index, weight loss and survival rates in advanced lung cancer.
Sarcopenia is characterised by progressive and generalised skeletal muscle loss, both in terms of mass and function. Its main risk factors include ageing, gender, sedentary lifestyles and malnutrition. The latter is also frequently diagnosed alongside head- and- neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), with up to 46%-49% of patients being malnourished upon diagnosis.
Although sarcopenia has been identified as a prognostic factor for HNSCC, only a small number of studies investigate the association between sarcopenia and survival in HNSCC.
This study aimed to assess the association between pre-therapeutic sarcopenia and survival, as well as its impact on tolerance of chemoradiotherapy for the treatment of HNSCC. The outcomes measured in this study were overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), and treatment tolerance.