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The Impact of Sarcopenia and Myosteatosis on Outcomes of Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer or Distal 1 Cholangiocarcinoma

Rollins, Katie E.; Tewari, Nilanjana; Ackner, Abigail; Awwad, Amir; Madhusudan, Srinivasan; Macdonald, Ian A.; Fearon, Kenneth; Lobo, Dileep N.


Katie E. Rollins

Nilanjana Tewari

Abigail Ackner

Amir Awwad

Ian A. Macdonald

Kenneth Fearon

Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery


Background and aims: Patients with pancreatic cancer have a poor prognosis, are often cachectic, and frequently demonstrate features of systemic inflammation, which may contribute to the phenomenon of myosteatosis. Analysis of body composition from CT scans has been used to study sarcopenia and its association with prognosis in a number of types of cancer, particular in combination with obesity. It has also been suggested that myosteatosis, defined as attenuated mean skeletal muscle Hounsfield units (HU), is associated with reduced survival in cancer. This study aimed to assess the association between body composition (sarcopenia and myosteatosis) and outcome in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.
Methods: All patients diagnosed with unresectable pancreatic cancer at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust between 2006 and 2013 were considered for the study. A total of 228 patients were retrospectively included. Body composition was assessed using cross sectional CT analysis to calculate a skeletal muscle index (SMI) for sarcopenia and use mean skeletal muscle HU for myosteatosis.
Results: The prevalence of sarcopenia in the whole patient group at baseline was 60.5% (138/228). Overall, patients who were sarcopenic had no significant difference in overall survival versus those who were not (p=0.779), however patients who were overweight/ obese and sarcopenic had a significantly lower survival (p=0.013). Of the 58 patients who were overweight or obese and sarcopenic, 32 were also myosteatotic. The prevalence of myosteatosis overall at baseline was 55.3% (126/228) and this was associated with significant reduction in overall survival (p=0.049). Univariate Cox regression revealed myosteatosis but not sarcopenia to be predictive of reduced survival, however this
relationship was lost on multivariate testing. Myosteatosis was associated with significantly greater levels of systemic inflammation (white cell count and C-reactive protein), anemia and worsening of baseline blood urea. This relationship was not seen with sarcopenia.
Conclusions: This is the largest study on the association between body composition and survival in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer and has shown that although sarcopenia alone did not have a bearing on survival, the presence of myosteatosis was associated significantly with the presence of systemic inflammation and reduced survival.


Rollins, K. E., Tewari, N., Ackner, A., Awwad, A., Madhusudan, S., Macdonald, I. A., …Lobo, D. N. (2016). The Impact of Sarcopenia and Myosteatosis on Outcomes of Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer or Distal 1 Cholangiocarcinoma. Clinical Nutrition, 35(5), 1103-1109.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 22, 2015
Publication Date Oct 1, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2019
Journal Clinical Nutrition
Print ISSN 0261-5614
Electronic ISSN 1532-1983
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 5
Pages 1103-1109
Public URL