Prokinetics and ghrelin for the management of cancer cachexia syndrome
Cancer cachexia (CC) is one of the most distressing syndromes for both patients and their families. CC can have an impact on patient reported quality of life and overall survival. It is often associated with symptoms such as fatigue, depressed mood, early satiety, and anorexia. Prokinetic agents have been found to improve chronic nausea and early satiety associated with CC. Among the prokinetic agents, metoclopramide is one of the best studied medications. The role of the other prokinetic agents, such as domperidone, erythromycin, haloperidol, levosulpiride, tegaserod, cisapride, mosapride, renzapride, and prucalopride is unclear for use in cachectic cancer patients due to their side effect profile and limited efficacy studies in cancer patients. There has been an increased interest in the use of ghrelin-receptor agonists for the treatment of CC. Anamorelin HCl is a highly selective, novel ghrelin receptor agonist. A meta-analysis was conducted of the recent randomized trials using anamorelin (daily dose of 50 and 100 mg daily). Results show that both total body weight and lean body mass were significantly increased from baseline in the anamorelin group. Anamorelin did not improve overall survival or hand grip strength, and there were no significant differences between groups for frequency or severity of any adverse events. In this review, the authors discuss the available evidence for the use of prokinetics such as metoclopramide and ghrelin receptor agonists for the treatment of CC.