HealthDay News — For men with metastatic melanoma treated with targeted or immune therapy, obesity is associated with improved survival, according to a study published online February 13 in The Lancet Oncology.

Jennifer L. McQuade, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study involving independent cohorts of patients with metastatic melanoma assigned to treatment with targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy. Six cohorts comprised 2,046 patients with metastatic melanoma; 1,918 patients were included in the analysis. Patients were classified according to body mass index (BMI): 36% normal, 37% overweight, and 27% obese. 

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The researchers found that, compared with normal BMI, obesity was correlated with improved survival for patients with metastatic melanoma in the pooled analysis (average adjusted hazard ratio, 0.77 for progression-free survival and 0.74 for overall survival). The obesity-related survival benefit was seen only for patients receiving targeted therapy (hazard ratios, 0.72 and 0.6 for progression-free and overall survival, respectively) and immunotherapy (hazard ratios, 0.75 and 0.64, respectively), not for patients receiving chemotherapy. The correlation of BMI with overall survival differed by sex, with inverse associations in men (hazard ratio, 0.53) but not in women.

“These results have implications for the design of future clinical trials for patients with metastatic melanoma and the magnitude of the benefit found supports further investigation of the underlying mechanism of these associations,” the authors write.

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Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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