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While fighting advanced-stage cancer, some patients develop a medical condition known as anorexia-cachexia (wasting) syndrome. Characterized by a marked decrease in appetite, this condition can cause a significant loss of body mass, including both fatty tissue and muscle. The resulting fatigue, weakness and discomfort can make it difficult to perform daily activities and diminish the quality of life.

Additionally, the effects of anorexia-cachexia can potentially interfere with cancer treatments. For instance, powerful chemotherapy medications and surgery can take a toll on the body. Therefore, these treatments necessitate a certain amount of strength and stamina, both of which are often reduced by anorexia-cachexia.

Though relatively common, anorexia-cachexia syndrome is not widely understood. For help in managing the associated symptoms, many patients turn to a variety of specialists, such as nutritionists and physical therapists, in addition to their regular oncologists. This can add to an already demanding cancer treatment schedule and also complicate the communication process among specialists.

Anorexia-cachexia treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

In keeping with our multispecialty approach to cancer treatment – which focuses on treating the whole patient rather than just his or her cancer – Moffitt has established a Vitality Clinic to help our patients manage the challenges of cancer-related anorexia-cachexia.

A meaningful acronym that resonates with many cancer patients, VITALITY stands for:

  • V – Vigor-promoting rehabilitation
  • I – Information and guidance
  • T – Treatment of symptoms that interfere with eating
  • A – Appetite enhancement strategies
  • L – Leveraging energy-conservation techniques
  • I – Interventions to support proper nutrition
  • T – Testing to optimize care
  • Y – Your individualized plan for vitality

Within Moffitt’s Vitality Clinic, practitioners from several disciplines – including Supportive Care, nutrition, and physical therapy– work together in a single location. The resulting synergy benefits our patients in many ways, including fewer office visits and a more streamlined process for receiving comprehensive cancer care. In addition to helping our patients eat, gain weight and feel better, our Vitality Clinic ensures that each individual is listened to, cared for and educated about the various aspects of his or her condition.

If you are a patient at Moffitt Cancer Center, your oncologist can refer you to our Vitality Clinic. For more information, please call 1-888-663-3488.

Supportive Care Medicine