Existing definitions of clinically important weight loss (WL) in patients with cancer are unclear and heterogeneous and do not consider current trends toward obesity.
Canadian and European patients with cancer (n = 8,160) formed a population-based data set. Body mass index (BMI) and percent WL (%WL) were recorded, and patients were observed prospectively until death. Data were entered into a multivariable analysis controlling for age, sex, cancer site, stage, and performance status. Relationships for BMI and %WL to overall survival were examined to develop a grading system.
Mean overall %WL was −9.7% ± 8.4% and BMI was 24.4 ± 5.1 kg/m2, and both %WL and BMI independently predicted survival (P < .01). Differences in survival were observed across five categories of BMI (< 20.0, 20.0 to 21.9, 22.0 to 24.9, 25.0 to 27.9, and ≥ 28.0 kg/m2; P < .001) and five categories of %WL (−2.5% to −5.9%, −6.0% to −10.9%, −11.0% to −14.9%, ≥ −15.0%, and weight stable (± 2.4%); P < .001). A 5 × 5 matrix representing the five %WL categories within each of the five BMI categories was graded based on median survival and prognostic significance. Weight-stable patients with BMI ≥ 25.0 kg/m2 (grade 0) had the longest survival (20.9 months; 95% CI, 17.9 to 23.9 months), and %WL values associated with lowered categories of BMI were related to shorter survival (P < .001), as follows: grade 1, 14.6 months (95% CI, 12.9 to 16.2 months); grade 2, 10.8 months (95% CI, 9.7 to 11.9 months); grade 3, 7.6 months (95% CI, 7.0 to 8.2 months); and grade 4, 4.3 months (95% CI, 4.1 to 4.6 months). Survival discrimination by grade was observed within specific cancers, stages, ages, and performance status and in an independent validation sample (n = 2,963).
A robust grading system incorporating the independent prognostic significance of both BMI and %WL was developed.