Measuring Patients’ Muscles to Predict Chemotherapy Side Effects

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Measuring Patients’ Muscles to Predict Chemotherapy Side Effects

New research suggests ways to identify patients who will experience side effects from chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy has long been standard treatment for many cancers, but its clinical benefits can also come with well-documented side effects. Doctors say the challenge is knowing which patients will experience these side effects, and to what extent.

Findings from a new study suggest this could be changing.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research that a tool developed at UNC could potentially help doctors better identify patients at high risk for toxic side effects that could require hospitalizations.

Shlomit Strulov Shachar, MD, the study’s first author, said they found that low measures of muscle quality and quantity in patients with early-stage breast cancer were linked to serious side effects and hospitalizations. Based on their findings, the researchers believe measuring muscle composition could be helpful in predicting which patients will experience side effects from chemotherapy, and in determining appropriate drug doses.

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