Good nutritional status can extend the lives of patients with acute myeloid leukemia going into induction chemotherapy, according to a retrospective study of 95 adult AML patients.

Those with good nutritional status had significantly shorter hospital stays than did undernourished patients. Furthermore, they had greater 12-month survival, compared with undernourished patients.

“Assessment of nutritional status is essential because undernutrition in this population is common,” Elise Deluche, MD , and her coinvestigators wrote ( Nutrition. 2017 Sep;41:120-5 ). They assessed the nutritional status of 95 consecutive adult AML patients admitted to Limoges (France) University Hospital during 2009-2014 and followed their nutritional status for 12 months.Patients were considered undernourished if they had lost more than 5% of their weight, and had a body mass index (BMI) of under 18.5 kg/m2 if less than 70 years of age, or under 21 kg/m2 if aged at least 70 years.

Fourteen patients (15%) were undernourished at admission. That proportion grew after chemotherapy induction to 17 patients (18%), but there were no significant differences from admission in BMI, weight, or albumin.

The adequately nourished patients had significantly worse nutritional status at discharge than admission, with a significantly lower median weight (P =.02), BMI (P = .04), and albumin levels (P = .0002), compared with their admission values.

Importantly, the well nourished patients had shorter hospital stays than their undernourished counterparts, at 31 days, compared with 39 days (P = .03). Furthermore, their 12-month survival was greater, at 89.9%, than that of the undernourished patient, at 58.3% (P = .002).

After chemotherapy induction, 64 patients (67%) were in complete remission: 57 (70%) in the adequately nourished and 7 (50%) in the undernourished group, a nonsignificant difference.

This is the first study to look solely at patients with AML, Dr. DeLuche and her coinvestigators said, as previous nutritional studies have also included patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and it “confirmed that the length of hospitalization was shorter for patients without undernutrition.” They added that their study included a more accurate representation of AML patients with a median patient age of 58 years, much older than the range of 28-41 found in other studies. A quarter of the patients in Dr. DeLuche’s study were over age 65.

“[Existing] screening tools should be improved and adapted to the specific situation of induction chemotherapy for monitoring nutritional status during hospitalization,” they concluded.

The study received no outside funding, and the investigators had no conflicts of interest.