Unintentional weight loss is associated with an increase in the risk of a cancer diagnosis within the coming year

Posted On Jan 31, 2024

Topic: In The News, Press Releases
Unintentional weight loss is associated with an increase in the risk of a cancer diagnosis within the coming year

According to a Lustgarten-funded study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

WOODBURY, NY, January 31, 2024 — Last week, the Journal of the American Medical Association published results from a Lustgarten-funded study from the LABS (Lustgarten Advancing Breakthrough Science) Program site at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, led by Brian Wolpin, M.D., MPH, Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber and Director of the Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. This study explores the link between unintentional weight loss and cancer, testing the viability of recent weight loss as an indicator of early cancer development. Researchers found that compared with participants who did not lose weight, recent weight loss was associated with significantly increased risk for several types of cancer, including upper gastrointestinal tract (including esophageal, stomach, liver, biliary tract, and pancreatic cancer), hematological (including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia), colorectal, and lung cancers. 

“These findings underscore the importance of the science we are supporting at the Lustgarten Foundation,” said Linda Tantawi, CEO of the Lustgarten Foundation. “We prioritize creativity in pancreatic cancer research, and when we see Lustgarten-funded science positively impact other cancer types, we could not be more proud. We commend our researchers for their dedication to leading the way to advancements in the field.”  

Historically, weight loss is most associated with patients with advanced cancer and is not thought to occur with early-stage disease. This study found that similar levels of weight loss occurred before diagnosis of both early and late-stage disease. This is important because unintentional weight loss could be a sign of a developing cancer that could help diagnose the cancer earlier when there’s a chance for more effective treatment. The findings are related to ongoing Lustgarten-funded research led by Dr. Wolpin and his team to identify signals in blood, scans, or medical records utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) that would assist with the early detection of pancreatic cancer. 

“The Dana-Farber LABS Program team is advancing innovative approaches for early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer through an integrated clinical translational program,” said Andrew Rakeman, VP of Research at the Lustgarten Foundation. “This allows for flexibility and produces real results that are important for patients.” 

At the Lustgarten Foundation, early detection and interception are key research priorities. Identifying the disease early provides patients with the most treatment options and best outcomes. Our vision is to create new tools, leverage novel technologies, and foster partnerships with researchers and organizations to detect tumors as early as possible, identify those who are at risk for developing pancreatic cancer, and intercept the disease before it begins—avoiding a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. With Lustgarten-funded breakthroughs using vaccines, artificial intelligence, and new techniques to identify epigenetic and metabolic changes predicting early pancreatic cancer development, we are closer than ever to making this vision a reality. 

Full press release HERE.

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