Aspects of altered metabolism in children with cancer


Aspects of altered metabolism in children with cancer


Picton SV


International Journal Of Cancer. Supplement




Child; Humans; Animals; Nutritional Requirements; Cachexia/etiology; Energy Metabolism; Interleukin-1/physiology; Interleukin-6/physiology; Neoplasms/complications/metabolism/physiopathology; Nutritional Failure; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/physiology


Severe weight loss associated with cancer continues to be a major cause of morbidity in cases of childhood malignancy. The etiology is not completely understood but is probably multifactorial, including reduced ingestion and altered metabolism of nutrients. Changes in the host metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate in the cancer-bearing host have been demonstrated both in animal models and in patients. Changes include increased protein turnover and loss of the normal compensatory mechanisms seen in starvation. Additionally, increased lipid breakdown results in depletion of lipid stores and changes in carbohydrate metabolism result in an energy-losing cycle. The increase in protein turnover seen in children with leukemia may be related to the tumor, the chemotherapy administered or to related conditions such as febrile neutropenia. The role of endogenous mediators of cancer cachexia has not yet been clearly elucidated, although tumor necrosis factor, interleukin I and interleukin 6 appear to be involved. Studies of energy expenditure in children with cancer have indicated that certain patients with a raised metabolic rate are at particular risk of severe weight loss. The challenge is to identify these vulnerable patients and to provide adequate nutritional support early in treatment and therefore avoid the deleterious effects of cachexia.


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Journal Article


Picton SV, “Aspects of altered metabolism in children with cancer,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed June 24, 2024,