Introduction: The relationships between morbid obesity, changes in body mass index (BMI) before cancer diagnosis, and lung cancer outcomes by histology (SCLC and NSCLC) have not been well studied.
Methods: Individual level data analysis was performed on 25,430 patients with NSCLC and 2787 patients with SCLC from 16 studies of the International Lung Cancer Consortium evaluating the association between various BMI variables and lung cancer overall survival, reported as adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) from Cox proportional hazards models and adjusted penalized smoothing spline plots.
Results: Overall survival of NSCLC had putative U-shaped hazard ratio relationships with BMI based on spline plots: being underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2; aHR = 1.56; 95% confidence interval [CI]:1.43–1.70) or morbidly overweight (BMI > 40 kg/m2; aHR = 1.09; 95% CI: 0.95–1.26) at the time of diagnosis was associated with worse stage-specific prognosis, whereas being overweight (25 kg/m2 ≤ BMI < 30 kg/m2; aHR = 0.89; 95% CI: 0.85–0.95) or obese (30 kg/m2 ≤ BMI ≤ 40 kg/m2; aHR = 0.86; 95% CI: 0.82–0.91) was associated with improved survival. Although not significant, a similar pattern was seen with SCLC. Compared with an increased or stable BMI from the period between young adulthood until date of diagnosis, a decreased BMI was associated with worse outcomes in NSCLC (aHR = 1.24; 95% CI: 1.2–1.3) and SCLC patients (aHR=1.26 (95% CI: 1.0–1.6). Decreased BMI was consistently associated with worse outcome, across clinicodemographic subsets.
Conclusions: Both being underweight or morbidly obese at time of diagnosis is associated with lower stage-specific survival in independent assessments of NSCLC and SCLC patients. In addition, a decrease in BMI at lung cancer diagnosis relative to early adulthood is a consistent marker of poor survival.