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Obesity Linked to Higher Mortality Rate in Colon Cancer

Relationship between body mass index, clinical outcomes stronger in men

TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with colon cancer, obesity was associated with higher rates of cancer recurrence and mortality, according to research published online March 9 in Clinical Cancer Research.

Frank A. Sinicrope, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues analyzed data from 4,381 patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma who were participating in randomized trials of 5-fluorouracil-based adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients had been treated surgically, and most had received effective chemotherapy.

The authors note that 20 percent of patients were obese. Compared to normal-weight patients, obese patients were found to have more distal tumors and lymph node metastases. Body mass index (BMI) was associated with both disease-free survival and overall survival. Men with a BMI of 35 or above had a 35-percent increased risk of death compared with normal-weight patients. Women with a BMI of 30 to 34 had a 24-percent higher risk of death. The association between BMI and clinical outcome was stronger in men than women, per the researchers.

"Our findings extend the effect of obesity beyond its known association with colon cancer risk by showing that obesity is an independent prognostic variable in colon cancer survivors that shows differences by gender. Obesity was a poor prognostic factor despite adjuvant chemotherapy. Such information has the potential to influence patient management decisions and surveillance strategies," the authors conclude.

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