Cancer cachexia update in head and neck cancer: Pathophysiology and treatment

Marion E. Couch, Kim Dittus, Michael J. Toth, Monte S. Willis, Denis C. Guttridge, Jonathan R. George, Eric Y. Chang, Christine G. Gourin, Hirak Der-Torossian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The pathophysiology of cancer cachexia remains complex. A comprehensive literature search was performed up to April 2013 using PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and the Google search engine. In this review, we focus on the different mediators of impaired anabolism and upregulated catabolism that alter the skeletal muscle homeostasis resulting in the wasting of cancer cachexia. We present recent evidence of targeted treatment modalities from clinical trials along with their potential mechanisms of action. We also report on the most current evidence from randomized clinical trials using multimodal treatments in patients with cancer cachexia, but also the evidence from head and neck cancer-specific trials. A more complete understanding of the pathophysiology of the syndrome may lead to more effective targeted therapies and improved outcomes for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1072
Number of pages16
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer cachexia and anorexia
  • clinical trials
  • head and neck cancer
  • multimodal treatment
  • pathophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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