Muscle mass and nutrition can have a direct impact on quality of life for mesothelioma patients. That’s the finding of an Australian study of sixty-one men and women with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Researchers say the quality of life for mesothelioma patients was compromised by lower muscle mass or malnutrition. It is a wake-up call for mesothelioma patients to stay active and eat well for the best outcomes.
Impacts on Quality of Life for Mesothelioma Patients
Pleural mesothelioma is an incurable cancer. Even with the best mesothelioma treatments, most patients still face a grim prognosis.
But there is evidence that good self-care may help. Previous studies have shown that patients with the best nutritional status often have longer mesothelioma survival. Nutritional status measures the state of a person’s health in terms of the nutrients in his or her diet.
The current mesothelioma study was run by researchers at Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia.
Seventy-nine of the study participants were men and fifty-four percent were women. Patients had DEXA scans to determine their skeletal muscle mass. Sarcopenia is the term for a reduction in muscle mass.
Nutritional status and quality of life for mesothelioma patients were measured with patient surveys.
Activity and Nutrition Impact Quality of Life for Mesothelioma Patients
Among the mesothelioma patients studied, fifty-four percent had the beginnings of muscle loss (pre-sarcopenia). Thirty-eight percent of the patients were malnourished. Both of these problems had an impact on quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
“Percent of time spent in light activity/day was lower in participants with pre-sarcopenia compared with non-sarcopenic participants,” writes Emily Jeffery, MD, lead author on the study. “Participants with malnutrition had poorer HRQoL [health-related quality of life] than well-nourished participants.”
Cancer experts recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lean proteins to maintain nutritional status during mesothelioma treatment. The primary drug used to treat mesothelioma is an anti-folate. Most patients will be given extra folic acid to reduce side effects.
Although both cancer and its treatment can sap energy, activity is essential for maintaining quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
A 2018 Australian study suggests that mesothelioma patients should aim for at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week.
In the US, the American Cancer Society says exercise can reduce treatment-associated nausea and prevent isolation.
Jeffrey, E, et al, “Body composition and nutritional status in malignant pleural mesothelioma: implications for activity levels and quality of life”, March 18, 2019, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Epub ahead in print, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-019-0418-9
Cormie, P, et al, “Clinical Oncology Society of Australia position statement on exercise in cancer care”, May 7, 2018, The Medical Journal of Australia, Epub ahead of print, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29719196