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Sarcopenia: an adverse prognostic factor for patients with head and neck cancer?


Article: The impact of sarcopenia on survival and treatment tolerance in patients with head and neck cancer treated with chemoradiotherapy

Sarcopenia is characterised by progressive and generalised skeletal muscle loss, both in terms of mass and function. Its main risk factors include ageing, gender, sedentary lifestyles and malnutrition. The latter is also frequently diagnosed alongside head- and- neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), with up to 46%-49% of patients being malnourished upon diagnosis.

Although sarcopenia has been identified as a prognostic factor for HNSCC, only a small number of studies investigate the association between sarcopenia and survival in HNSCC.

This study aimed to assess the association between pre-therapeutic sarcopenia and survival, as well as its impact on tolerance of chemoradiotherapy for the treatment of HNSCC. The outcomes measured in this study were overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), and treatment tolerance.

Key learnings: Pre-therapeutic sarcopenia was found to be an independent negative prognostic factor for DFS after chemoradiotherapy, but not for OS. Further, no significant association between pre-therapeutic sarcopenia and treatment tolerance was found.

Reviewed by: S. Duarte

Authors: Bentahila R., Giraud P., Decazes P., et al.

Published in: Cancer Medicine (October 2022)

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