Weight loss is associated with worse outcomes in patients receiving initial treatment for advanced gastric cancer, according to a new retrospective analysis published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

The study was an analysis of the medical records of 131 patients in Japan who were treated for advanced gastric cancer. In this study, researchers examined outcomes with regard to weight loss over time after beginning initial systemic chemotherapy. Weight loss was defined as occurring over the prior 6 months, while on chemotherapy, and equaling a reduction in weight of more than 5%, or more than 2% in patients with a body mass index that was below 20 kg/m2.

Patients had a median age of 68 years, median body mass index of 21.1 kg/m2, and median Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status was 0.

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The researchers found that in the initial 12 weeks following the start of chemotherapy, patients had a cumulative incidence of weight loss of 53.4%. This rate rose to 87.7% by 48 weeks.

Overall survival (OS) showed a significant association with weight loss within 12 weeks, 24 weeks, or 48 weeks following the initiation of chemotherapy. Patients with weight loss during the first 12 weeks had a median OS of 442 days, compared with 500 days for those without weight loss (P =.0167). For those with weight loss during the first 48 weeks, the median OS was 459 days, compared with 851 days for those without weight loss (P =.0020).

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Adverse events associated with greater prevalence and intensity in the weight loss group were fatigue and loss of appetite.

The researchers concluded that weight loss, and outcomes associated with it, began relatively early in this patient population. “These results suggest the importance of monitoring [weight loss] or providing nutritional support at the beginning of chemotherapy,” wrote the researchers in their report.


Fukahori M, Shibata M, Hamauchi S, Kasamatsu E, Machii K. A retrospective cohort study to investigate the incidence of cancer-related weight loss during chemotherapy in gastric cancer patients [published online May 3, 2020]. Support Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-020-05479-w

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor