Undiagnosed cardiac deficits in non-small cell carcinoma patients in the candidate population for anti-cachexia clinical trials

Kazemi-Bajestani SMR, Becher H, Butts C, Basappa NS, Smylie M, Joy AA, Sangha R, Gallivan A, Chu Q, Baracos VE

Support Care Cancer 2019 Apr;27(4):1551-1561

PMID: 30547303


PURPOSE: Currently, there is no approved therapy for cancer cachexia. According to European and American regulatory agencies, physical function improvements would be approvable co-primary endpoints of new anti-cachexia medications. As physical functioning is in part dependent on cardiac functioning, we aimed to explore the cardiac status of a group of patients meeting current criteria for inclusion in cachexia clinical trials.

METHODS: Seventy treatment-naive patients with metastatic NSCLC [36 (51.4%) male; 96% ECOG 0-1; eligible for carboplatin-based therapy and meeting eligibility criteria for cachexia clinical trials] were recruited before the start of first-line carboplatin-based chemotherapy. Patients were evaluated by echocardiography, electrocardiography, and scales for fatigue and dyspnea. Computed tomography cross-sectional images were utilized for body composition analysis.

RESULTS: In 9/70 patients (12.8%), echocardiography allowed discovery of clinically relevant cardiac disorders [seven patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) 32%-47%; one patient with severe right ventricular dilation and severe pulmonary hypertension and one patient with severe pericardial effusion warranted hospitalization and drainage]. Another 10/70 (14.3%) patients had diastolic dysfunction with preserved LVEF. The cardiac conditions were associated with aggravated fatigue (p <  0.05), dyspnea (p < 0.05), and anemia (p = 0.06). Five out of seven patients with LVEF < 50% were sarcopenic and one was borderline sarcopenic.

CONCLUSION: Baseline cardiac status of the metastatic NSCLC patients adds potential heterogeneity for anti-cachexia clinical trials. Detailed cardiac screening data might be useful for inclusion/exclusion criteria, randomization, and post hoc analysis.