According to a report on Surviving Mesothelioma, Researchers at China’s Shandong University who compared the nutritional status of 121 malignant pleural mesothelioma patients with their treatment outcomes found a definite connection.
All patients enrolled in the study had undergone surgical biopsies of their mesothelioma tumors. The researchers collected demographic, clinical, and laboratory data on the enrolled patients and then used a prognostic tool called the prognostic nutritional index (PNI) to determine each patient’s nutritional status.
PNI was developed as a way to identify malnutrition and predict survival in patients who have undergone surgeries. It involves calculating the concentration of serum albumin and measuring the peripheral blood lymphocyte count. A number of studies have been done on PNI and cancer, but this is the first study specifically linking nutritional status and malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The mean PNI among the study participants prior to mesothelioma treatment was 44.6. The study found that PNI could be affected by age, smoking habits and weight loss. After adjusting for a variety of mesothelioma prognostic factors including age, gender, smoking habits, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, tumor site, and histology, researchers found a clear link between PNI and mesothelioma outcomes.
In a published report on their findings, the authors conclude, “Patients with lower PNIs had greater risk of death than those with higher PNIs… Pretreatment PNI is a novel independent prognostic factor in malignant pleural mesothelioma.” Those whose PNI fell below the mean of 44.6 were less likely to survive their mesothelioma than those whose PNI was greater than 44.6. These findings suggest that people who maintain good nutritional status are more likely to survive mesothelioma if they contract it.
Prognostic factors like PNI can not only give patients and their families a more realistic idea what to expect from mesothelioma treatment, but they can also help to guide clinicians in pretreatment planning. Other independent prognostic factors in mesothelioma include age, gender, cancer stage, and the presence or absence of certain biomarkers in the blood or lung fluid.
The original PNI/mesothelioma study was conducted by the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Shandong University and was published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. (Yao, ZH, et al, “Prognostic nutritional index predicts outcomes of malignant pleural mesothelioma”, October 23, 2013, Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, Epub ahead of print, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24149776).
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