Obesity Boosts Postoperative Pancreatic Cancer Risks

Researchers find increased metastasis, recurrence, death risk in the obese

TUESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Obese pancreatic cancer patients who undergo surgery have higher cancer recurrence and metastasis rates and a greater risk of death than non-obese patients, according to research published in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Jason B. Fleming, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues used data from 285 patients who underwent surgery to treat adenocarcinoma from 1999 to 2006. The researchers divided the patients into groups by body mass index (BMI): under 23, 23 to 25, 26 to 29, 30 to 35 and over 35 (defined as obese). The researchers assessed incidence of lymph node metastasis, cancer recurrence and survival, and correlated outcomes with BMI.

Obese patients (with a BMI over 35) were 12 times more likely to have lymph node metastasis compared with non-obese patients (BMI ≤35), the investigators found. Cancer recurrence was higher in the obese patients (95 percent) versus non-obese patients (61 percent), and obese patients had nearly twice the risk of death compared with non-obese patients, the researchers report. No increased risk was discerned related to the difficulty of performing surgery on obese patients, the authors note.

"Previous epidemiologic studies found that a BMI of more than 35 is associated with a 2.61 relative risk of death from pancreatic cancer. Our findings extend these observations to those patients who undergo surgery to treat pancreatic cancer and suggest that obesity is a host factor affecting tumor biology independent of the difficulties (patient- and treatment-related) involved in delivering oncologic care in obese patients," Fleming and colleagues conclude.

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