A group of Japanese surgeons, oncologists and pathologists compared the treatment responses of 83 patients with pleural mesothelioma and found that patients with the poorest nutritional status tended to have the poorest mesothelioma prognosis.
Controlling Nutritional Status Score
To reach their conclusion, the researchers used a tool called the Controlling Nutritional Status (CONUT) score.
This computer-based tool calculates a score based on laboratory information including serum albumin, total cholesterol level and total lymphocyte count to get a snapshot of a mesothelioma patient’s overall immunonutritional status.
A systemic inflammatory response and malnutrition, as indicated by these parameters, has been associated with a worse prognosis in several different malignancies. The new Japanese study is the first to measure its impact in malignant mesothelioma.
CONUT and Mesothelioma Prognosis
In the current study, patients were classified into either high or low CONUT score groups, with higher scores indicating poorer immunonutritional status. Of the 83 mesothelioma patients included in the analysis, 31 were classified into the high CONUT group.
“The high CONUT group had significantly poorer overall survival and disease- or progression-free survival,” reports Shinkichi Takamori, a thoracic oncologist at the National Kyushu Cancer Center in Fukuoka.
The stage of a patient’s mesothelioma cancer and the CONUT score were found to be independent predictive factors for overall survival, disease-free survival, and progression-free survival.
The authors of the study, which appears in a recent issue of Clinical Lung Cancer, conclude that CONUT “provides useful information for selecting patients who will benefit from the treatment.” A similar scoring tool called the prognostic nutritional index (PNI) was also found to be an independent prognostic marker in pleural mesothelioma in 2013.
Nutrition and Mesothelioma Survival
Although the current study does not touch on the impact of food and supplement intake on the CONUT score or mesothelioma prognosis, there are many other studies linking adequate nutrition to better outcomes and a higher quality of life during cancer treatment.
Mesothelioma patients can support themselves during by eating a balanced diet including plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, green tea, lean protein, fiber, and fish oil.
Avoiding fried, sugary or spicy foods can help counter nausea and vomiting that can accompany chemotherapy and consuming more water helps fight dry mouth and dehydration.
Because decreased appetite and weight loss are common for mesothelioma patients during treatment, your doctor may recommend frequent smaller meals and nutritional drinks as a way to consume enough calories and maintain energy.
Takamori, S, et al, “The Controlling Nutritional Status Score is a Significant Independent Predictor of Poor Prognosis in Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma”, February 2, 2017, Clinical Lung Cancer, Epub ahead of print