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Further Evidence Of A Positive Link Between Weight At Diagnosis And Survival In Multiple Myeloma Patients

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Published: Dec 30, 2013 11:48 pm

In a recent study conducted in Korea, investigators found that myeloma patients who had higher weights at diagnosis had the longest survival.

Patients who were underweight at diagnosis, on the other hand, had the lowest survival.

The results of the Korean study are similar to those reported by a recent study that examined weight at diagnosis and its impact on survival in U.S. veterans diagnosed with myeloma (see related Beacon news).

In the Korean study, investigators retrospectively analyzed data for 193 myeloma patients who were diag­nosed from 1998 to 2012 at a single treatment center.  For each patient, the researchers had data that al­lowed them to calculate the patient's body mass index (BMI) at the time of diagnosis.

BMI is a measure of how overweight, or underweight, a person is.  It is calculated based on a person’s height and weight.

The researchers divided the patients in the study into three groups based on their BMI at diagnosis.  The first group was patients who were underweight (BMI below 20 kg/m2).  The second group was patients who had a healthy weight (BMI of 20 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2).  The third group was patients who were overweight (BMI of 25 kg/m2 or above).

Median survival for the patients in the three groups increased as weight at diagnosis increased.

In particular, median survival was 26 months for patients who were underweight, 57 months for patients with a healthy weight, and 76 months for patients who were overweight at diagnosis.

The researchers also found that patients in the study who were underweight at the time of diagnosis had lower hemoglobin levels, higher calcium levels in their blood, and higher rates of kidney failure at diagnosis than the patients in the other two weight categories.

However, even when the researchers controlled for factors such as patient age, disease stage, type of initial treatment, and response to initial treatment, they still found that being underweight at diagnosis had a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly significant negative impact on a patient's likelihood of survival.

For more information, please refer to the study in the Annals of Hematology (abstract).

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  • Perseverance said:

    At the very end of the abstract, it states that BMI and performance of an autologous stem cell transplant negatively impacted survival. The sentence reads disjunctively because it provides different hazard ratios for low BMI and ASCT. If true this would be the first article I have ever seen that found ASCT confers inferior survival, therefore I find it had to believe.

  • Beacon Staff said:

    Thanks for pointing out that confusing language in the abstract, Perseverance. We agree that the authors expressed themselves poorly in that case.

    The results are actually what you would expect, namely, patients who received a transplant actually had longer survival, while patients who were underweight had shorter survival. Hazard ratios above 1.0 are "bad" -- they are associated with shorter survival -- while hazard ratios below 1.0 are good (associated with longer survival).