A study looking at quality of life issues for people with cancer who are losing weight

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This study looked at the quality of life Open a glossary item issues that are most important for people with cancer who are losing weight. The researchers developed and tested a new questionnaire to do this.

More about this trial

Some people with cancer have severe weight loss. Doctors call this cachexia (pronounced kak-ex-ee-a). Severe weight loss can affect many aspects of peoples’ lives.

Quality of life questionnaires ask some questions about weight loss. But in this study, researchers developed and tested a questionnaire looking specifically at issues related to weight loss. They used it alongside other questionnaires.

The researchers wanted the questionnaire to include the most important quality of life issues for people living with cachexia. 

Summary of results

The researchers successfully developed a questionnaire looking at issues related to weight loss for people with cancer. 

This study was carried out in the UK and in 8 other European countries. People were able to take part at any stage of their cancer diagnosis. This meant the researchers had results from people recently diagnosed with cancer and people living with cancer towards the end of their life.

The team split their study into 3 parts. 

Part 1

39 people with cachexia and 12 healthcare professionals joined part 1. The researchers looked at results from other studies to see what quality of life issues had been found before. They then asked people with cachexia about their experiences of weight loss. These issues or experiences were added to what the researchers had found from published studies.

The team showed the combined list of issues to:

  • people with cachexia
  • healthcare professionals who are experienced in caring for people with cachexia

They asked everyone:

  • how important each issue was
  • if any issue shouldn’t be included in the questionnaire
  • if any issues were missing

Part 2

Using the information they learnt in Part 1 of the study the researchers developed a new study questionnaire. They included  44 issues.

Part 3

110 people took part in part 3 of the study. 

Everyone taking part completed a standard quality of life questionnaire and the study questionnaire. The researchers asked everyone:

  • how important each issue is
  • if each issue is relevant to them
  • if they found any of the questions difficult, confusing or upsetting

The study team asked everyone taking part a few questions about themselves, such as their employment history and education. The researchers also looked at information about each person’s cancer from their medical records.

The results from part 3 have helped researchers identify 5 themes, which affect quality of life for people with cachexia.

These are:

  • food aversion – this is feeling very put off by certain or all foods. This might be because of taste changes or feeling too full to eat
  • worrying about eating and weight loss
  • eating difficulties – this might be because of difficulty swallowing
  • loss of control
  • becoming more physically unwell

They also found other issues that didn’t fit into those themes. These were:

  • having a dry mouth
  • having indigestion Open a glossary item
  • eating when you don’t feel like it
  • not having enough information

The researchers have now developed a questionnaire, QLQ-CAX24, to find out more about weight loss related quality of life experiences of people with cancer. 

The study team are now testing this questionnaire with a large number of people worldwide. This will help the team find out if QLQ-CAX24:

  • is reliable at finding out about quality of life experiences
  • gives accurate results
  • is culturally suitable for people outside Europe

The researchers hope that QLQ-CAX24 will be used by doctors treating people with cancer in the future.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor C.D. Johnson

Supported by

European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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