Implications of weight loss for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy

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Purpose of review

Cancer-associated weight loss is a common comorbid condition best described among patients with advanced malignancy receiving systemic therapy, but its relationship to patients undergoing radiation treatment is less well described. We review the interaction between cancer-associated weight loss and radiation treatment as well as its prognostic significance.

Recent findings

Multiple studies demonstrate a consistent detrimental effect of cancer-associated weight loss either existing prior to treatment or developing during radiotherapy. Emerging data suggest cancer-associated weight loss independently contributes to an aggressive malignant phenotype rather than simply reflecting a consequence of disease. Novel therapies are urgently needed to address the unmet burden of cancer-associated weight loss.


Consideration of cancer-associated weight loss is important among patients receiving radiotherapy. Further study will further characterize the relationship and identify targetable biologic mechanisms of cancer cachexia.

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