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Br J Cancer. 2004 May 17;90(10):1905-11.

Do patients with weight loss have a worse outcome when undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancers?

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Lung Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, Downs Road, Sutton SM2 5PT, UK.


To examine whether weight loss at presentation influences outcome in patients who received chemotherapy for lung cancer or mesothelioma. Multivariate analysis of prospectively collected data 1994-2001. Data were available for age, gender, performance status, histology, stage, response, toxicity, progression-free and overall survival. The outcomes of patients with or without weight loss treated with chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer (SCLC; n=290), stages III and IV non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC; n=418), or mesothelioma (n=72) were compared. Weight loss was reported by 59, 58 and 76% of patients with SCLC, NSCLC and mesothelioma, respectively. Patients with weight loss and NSCLC (P=0.003) or mesothelioma (P=0.05) more frequently failed to complete at least three cycles of chemotherapy. Anaemia as a toxicity occurred significantly more frequently in NSCLC patients with weight loss (P=0.0003). The incidence of other toxicities was not significantly affected by weight loss. NSCLC patients with weight loss had fewer symptomatic responses (P=0.001). Mesothelioma patients with weight loss had fewer symptomatic (P=0.03) and objective responses (P=0.05). Weight loss was an independent predictor of shorter overall survival for patients with SCLC (P=0.003, relative risk (RR)=1.5), NSCLC (P=0.009, RR=1.33) and mesothelioma (P=0.03, RR=1.92) and an independent predictor of progression-free survival in patients with SCLC (P=0.01, RR=1.43). In conclusion, weight loss as a symptom of lung cancer predicts for toxicity from treatment and shorter survival.

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