Healthy Weight Better for Mesothelioma Survival
Maintaining a healthy weight may improve the odds for survival among patients battling malignant pleural mesothelioma.
A recent Associated Press report suggests that obese patients are likely to receive less chemotherapy than they need because of doctors’ fears of overdosing. According to the report, as many as 40 percent of obese cancer patients are getting less than 85 percent of the chemotherapy dose they need for their size. “There’s little doubt that some degree of under-treatment is contributing to the higher mortality and recurrence rates in obese patients,” Duke University oncologist Gary Lyman, MD, told the AP.
But cancer drugs like cisplatin, one of the most popular drugs for treating mesothelioma, are effective because of their toxicity. This is why precise dosing is essential to attack the cancer without doing more harm than good, especially among people who may have other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Potential under-dosing is not the only problem for obese people. Many studies have linked obesity to higher odds of getting certain kinds of cancer including breast and ovarian cancer in the first place.
Fortunately, mesothelioma is not one of the cancers, like breast and ovarian, which have been linked to obesity. In contrast, mesothelioma patients are far more likely to have the opposite problem. Along with cough and shortness of breath, weight loss is one of the most common early signs of mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, research suggests that being underweight is no healthier for mesothelioma patients than being overweight. Not only do heavier people tend to handle chemotherapy better than smaller people, but mesothelioma patients who gain weight instead of losing it during the course of their treatment are more likely to survive.
To improve chemotherapy dosing for all cancer patients, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has adopted guidelines calling for full weight-based dosing for obese patients.
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