Sarcopenia and Excess Adiposity Associated with Higher Mortality for Breast Cancer Patients?


A new study analysed 3241 patients with breast cancer in order to determine whether excess adiposity, poor muscle quality and sarcopenia are associated with overall mortality. The study discovered that more than one-third of the patients with sarcopenia also had a higher death risk.

Additionally, those with high total adipose tissue and sarcopenia had the highest mortalisty overall. This means that measuring sarcopenia could help doctors come up with a better prognostic for nometastatic breast cancer cases.

The setting and the participants

The study lasted from January 200 to December 2013, and it studied 3241 women diagnosed with stages II or III breast cancer. The patients were from  Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Out of the 3241 patients, 1086 patients (34%) presented with sarcopenia, and 1199 patients (37%) had low muscle radiodensity. The median age for the patients was 54 years, and the median follo-up was 6.0 years.

The results

The study revealed that the women that had sarcopenia also had higher overall mortality, compared to those who did not have it. The experts also discovered that low radiodensity was not associated with survival.

These results are very important because until now sarcopenia was not recognised enough when it comes to nonmetastatic breast cancer. As it turns out, sarcopenia occurs in more than one third of the patients who have been recently diagnosed.

The deaths of the patients diagnosed at the Kaiser Permanente Northern were collected from the mortality files. CT scans were used in order to measure the adiposity, the muscle radiodensity and the muscle area.

Experts analysed the data within 6 months of diagnosis, before any radiation or chemotherapy. During those years there were 618 deaths out of the 3241 patients. This study proved that sarcopenia is highly prevalent and also underrecognised.


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