Cachexia is a wasting condition tightly associated with chronic illnesses including, but not limited to, cancer, AIDS, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart and renal failure, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. The syndrome is characterized by severe weight loss due mainly to the breakdown of skeletal muscle. It has been estimated that cachexia is a direct cause of 30-50% of all cancer deaths cancers. These patients frequently succumb from impaired respiratory muscles and heart function. The prevalence of cancer cachexia varies with tumor type, but has the highest incidence in gastrointestinal, pancreatic, and advanced lung at the time of diagnosis. In addition, unlike muscle atrophy caused by starvation or physical inactivity, the collapse of muscle integrity in cachectic patients cannot be prevented or reversed by simply increasing caloric intake. As there is no effective cure for this syndrome, cancer cachexia has been (and still is) viewed as an end-of-life condition in patients with advanced malignancies that can be managed primarily through palliative care approaches. These and other observations underscore the importance of identifying new methods for the design of effective strategies to combat this deadly syndrome. Advances made in the last few years clearly demonstrate that cancer-cachexia is triggered via molecular pathways that are not activated by other illnesses. In addition, the number of scientists and clinicians that dedicate their research efforts to cancer cachexia has steadily grown in the last decade. Despite this, no international meeting was dedicated to cancer cachexia. In 2012, the first international cancer cachexia meeting was organized in Boston, Massachusettes. Based on the feedback we received and the successes of this first meeting, we decided to organize the 2nd meeting. The goals of our second meeting are to 1) to advance our understanding of the underlying causes of cancer cachexia;and 2) to increase the cachexia community by attracting physician scientists and young investigators to the field. Reaching this goal may potentially accelerate therapies for this cancer syndrome.
The health relatedness of our meeting is that resulting discussions and interactions from the presentations will enhance the overall understanding of the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle wasting relevant to cancer cachexia, and the pharmacologic technologies supporting its treatment. A second goal will be to expand the cachexia community by educating young scientists and engaging their efforts to continue moving the field forward towards a clinical setting.