Muscle Strength and Survival Rates in Advanced Cancer Patients

A clear relationship exists between muscle strength and overall survival among older adults with advanced cancer, according to a recent study published in Oncologist. The investigators noted that this information can be helpful for clinicians when they are planning treatment regimens for their patients who have advanced cancer.

Before beginning palliative chemotherapy for patients with advanced cancer, it is especially important for doctors to identify which individuals will benefit from this treatment approach. In particular, patients and doctors need to evaluate the impact it may have on symptoms and quality of life. To do that, it is necessary to determine the effect of certain factors on treatment outcome.

A challenge clinicians face is that there are scores of factors that can have an impact on a patient’s prognosis and overall survival.

In this study, 103 older adults (60 years and older; mean, 70) with advanced prostate, breast, or colorectal cancer underwent evaluation using computed tomography scans to assess muscle mass and radiodensity and hydraulic hand grip dynamometer to determine muscle strength. All of these factors have been shown to be associated with treatment toxicity and overall survival in younger patients with cancer.

Of the three factors tested, the researchers determined that adequate muscle strength was the only one significantly associated with longer overall survival. Both muscle mass and radiodensity did not demonstrate a significant effect on overall survival. These findings suggest that muscle strength may be useful when estimating overall survival in patients with advanced cancer and therefore which ones will benefit from chemotherapy.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Versteeg KS et al. Higher muscle strength is associated with prolonged survival in older patients with advanced cancer. Oncologist 2017 Dec 8