Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
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Cancer is an umbrella term describing many diseases driven by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Though many of these conditions have symptoms in common, their non-specific features make cancer exceptionally difficult to catch in the early stages. As tumours grow, however, symptoms like cachexia may become increasingly hard to miss.
Cachexia describes the involuntary loss of muscle and adipose tissue, which often worsens as cancer advances.
According to Cancer Research UK, the main symptoms of muscle wasting are:
- Severe weight loss, including fat and muscle mass
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and fatigue.
The condition significantly affects mortality and treatment efficacy in patients battling cancer, often through heart or respiratory failure.
New research on rodents has shown that the degree of muscle wasting in cancer patients often reflects the type, size and location of their tumour.
According to the findings, roughly 80 percent of people with cancer suffer from significant muscle wasting or a loss of muscle tissue.
Around 30 percent of these patients will die from complications relating to muscle wasting, which describes wasting of the muscle tissue.
This typically occurs when muscles lose their nerve supply, causing up between 20 and 40 percent of the muscle mass to waste away.
Cachexia also occurs naturally as the body ages and is a key contributor to the body’s decline in strength.
Gustavo Nader, associate professor of kinesiology, at Penn State, said: “Muscle wasting, and not the tumour itself, is often the killer.
“That’s why it is important to study what is happening at the cellular level in skeletal muscle that may be contributing to the wasting problem.”
The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, emerged from an investigation of the different mechanisms of muscle wasting in lung and colorectal cancer, in rodents.
Results revealed that the size, location and type of tour influenced the severity of muscle wasting through several mechanisms.
Two types of lung cancer were studied; LP07 and Lewis lung carcinoma.
According to the results, the burden of muscle wasting was greater in mice with the LP07 tumour type.
This tumour was also associated with a marked reduction in the production of ribosomes, which describes the cellular machinery responsible for making proteins.
Two types of colorectal cancer – HCT116 and C26 – were also studied to determine the role of tumour burden on muscle wasting.
This was established by assessing the relationship between the number of cancer cells, the size of the tumour, and the amount of cancer in the body.
Results showed that the location of the tumour is an essential factor in determining the severity of muscle wasting, but the type of tumour is also an important determinant.
Nader noted: “There are no effective treatments for muscle wasting in cancer patients.
“We are beginning to understand how different tumours cause muscle wasting, which is crucial because cancer treatments are less effective in patients with low muscle mass.”
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