High relative visceral fat areas (rVFAs) may increase the risk of death for female patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), according to a study published in Radiology.  

Recent studies have shown that gender plays a role in cancer outcomes, potentially due to the metabolic differences between men and women; a point of interest that may impact survival is fat distribution. High levels of visceral fat have been associated with poorer outcomes in various cancers and in general health, but the evidence is conflicting in RCC. The impact of gender, tumor glucose metabolism, and body fat distribution in RCC requires further investigation. 

For this study, researchers retrospectively evaluated the outcomes of 222 patients with clear cell RCC. Computed tomography (CT) was used to differentiate and determine the amount of subcutaneous and visceral fat, which were normalized against total fat area to obtain the rVFA and relative subcutaneous fat. Investigators then assessed the impact rVFA may have on sex-specific survival. 

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Results showed that women with a rVFA greater than 30.9% had a greater risk of death; women with high rVFA had a median overall survival (OS) of 40.4 months compared with women who had lower rVFA, who had a median OS that exceeded the observation period. 

No correlations were observed between visceral fat and length of survival among men. 

Women with high visceral fat and tumors with significantly increased glucose metabolism had very poor survival outcomes, but a combination of low rVFA and low glycolysis in women was associated with excellent survival. 

The authors concluded that “sex differences in visceral fat and tumor glucose metabolism may provide a new risk-stratification system for patients with clear cell RCC.”

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Nguyen GK, Mellnick VM, Yim AKY, Salter A, Ippolito JE. Synergy of Sex Differences in Visceral Fat Measured with CT and Tumor Metabolism Helps Predict Overall Survival in Patients with Renal Cell Carcinoma[published online March 20, 2018]. Radiology. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2018171504

This article originally appeared on ONA