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A recent study presented at the Annual Congress of the European Association of Urology (EAU) in Milan, Italy showed that loss of fat from under the skin (subcutaneous fat) after the start of immunotherapy treatment is linked with poor survival in patients with metastatic clear cell kidney cancer.
The study looked at 60 patients treated with immunotherapy. Those patients who had 5% or more loss of fat from under their skin per month had shorter overall survival times (average 9.5 months vs not reached). Also, time to when the treatment stopped working and the cancer started growing again was significantly longer (average 2.6 vs 33.5 months) compared with those patients with less than a 5% loss or a gain in fat under the skin.
The researchers looked at the tumours of these patients and found that patients with fat loss from under the skin had a tumour that suppressed the immune system, enabling it to grow.
“The transcriptomic characteristics, particularly immune-related features of the [tumour microenvironment], significantly differed between patients with and without [subcutaneous fat] loss, implying that it may have the potential to link loss of fat and poor clinical outcomes in these patients,” the researchers concluded.