Eating food is the most regular habit a person divulges into without realizing its importance. Consumption of food, although linked with gaining necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals, holds much more weight than that. Either to celebrate or to cheer up someone going through bad situations, treating them with favourite dishes has always come in handy. However, what if a person gets too ill to even bear the sight of food?

Anorexia‒a condition that delineates a major loss of appetite and aversion to food. It is a person’s inability to eat and is due to secondary reasons like ailments and conditions such as cancers, infections or as a side effect of medications. However, it is not to be confused with Anorexia nervosa, which is a type of complex psychological disorder resulting in a phobia of eating and getting fat. It distorts the perception of body weight in the patient, makes them fear gaining weight despite being underweight, and ultimately leads to extremely low body weight. 

Anorexia and Cancer 

Anorexia is the most common symptom that cancer patients experience. During cancer and their treatments, there are drastic changes in patients’ taste, smell, appetite, appearance, metabolism, and ability to swallow and digest food. If a person is diagnosed with Oral cancers, consuming enough food through the mouth becomes a huge problem in itself. However, symptoms such as reduction of appetite, early satiety, changes in taste & odor, depression, dysphagia, painful swallowing, and assessment of meal size are essential to diagnose the condition.

Talking about pathogenesis, it largely remains multifactorial. It can be linked with disturbances of the central physiological mechanisms controlling food intake, elevated basal metabolic rate, despite a decrease in physical activity and total energy expenditure, however, the precise neurochemical mechanisms are still debatable. 

Most patients with advanced cancer have some degree of anorexia. The prevalence of Anorexia in cancer patients can be picturized from the fact that it falls amongst the top three common symptoms in cancer patients. As per DelveInsight’s Cancer Anorexia epidemiological analysis, the incidence of anorexia by cancer types (in advanced cancers, namely, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancer, gastroesophageal cancer, and liver cancer) in the 7MM (the US, EU5 and Japan) was recorded to be 740,055 in 2020, which is further anticipated to increase. 

Besides being one of the most common symptoms, Anorexia is also one of the hardest to treat symptoms; and is associated with reduced quality of life, lower immunity, lower tolerance to chemotherapies, and mortality. It can begin at any stage and vary with severity in different individuals. 

Can it be Cured? 

The current Cancer Anorexia treatment market offers pharmacological agents further bifurcated into three categories: orexigenic agents (appetite stimulants), anti-catabolic agents (anti-metabolic and anti-cytokine), and anabolic agents (primarily hormonal).

However, Progestagens (megestrol acetate and medroxyprogesterone acetate) continue to be the first-line therapy for Cancer Anorexia due to their efficacy in addressing the symptoms. It was first approved by the USFDA in 1993 to treat Anorexia and weight loss with AIDS. However, its use is associated with an increased risk for mortality and thromboembolism.

Besides Progestagens, other treatment options in the Cancer Anorexia therapeutics market include corticosteroids (dexamethasone), cannabinoids (dronabinol, nabilone), anti-cytokine, antiserotonergic and anti-inflammatory agents. 

At the moment, off-label therapies continue to dominate the Cancer Anorexia market and the therapies often result in dangerous side effects. Although pharmacological and nutritional treatment options are available to maintain weight and boost appetite; they are limited in number and there is a lack of standard cure targeting the root cause of the disease. The condition can not be reversed with the help of only nutritional support, and there is a huge need for standard and efficient pharmacological treatment options.

Cancer Anorexia Market: What Lies Ahead? 

DelveInsight estimates that the expected launch of pipeline therapies such as Anamorelin HCl (Helsinn Healthcare), ART27.13 (Artelo Biosciences) and NGM120 (NGM Biopharmaceuticals) is anticipated to bring about much-needed acceleration to the Cancer Anorexia market size growth in the coming next decade. As per the analysis, the Cancer Anorexia market size is set to boost at a CAGR of 10.92% for the forecast period 2021-30. The emerging Cancer Anorexia pipeline appears quite weak with only three promising lead candidates in the late and early stages of clinical development. Further, out of these pipeline therapies, only Anamorelin HCl is in the phase III clinical stage of development. However, this can be seen as a true opportunity to exploit the fresh Cancer Anorexia therapeutics market.

The market also seeks advanced diagnostics methodologies that do not rely on gauging the condition on the basis of changes in appetite and body weight. Most of the people remain clueless about their condition which further leads to a delay in diagnosis. 

Overall, the Cancer Anorexia market opens doors to new avenues owing to a lack of a standard cure, only a few pipeline therapies, one therapy in the late-stage clinical trial, increasing incident population and better awareness among masses to tackle the most troublesome clinical symptoms associated with cancer. 

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