L3 skeletal muscle index (L3SMI) is a surrogate marker of sarcopenia and frailty in non-small cell lung cancer patients

D. Portal, L. Hofstetter, I. Eshed, C. Dan-Lantsman, T. Sella, D. Urban, A. Onn, J. Bar, G. Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a common and highly lethal disease. As advanced treatment modalities are being developed, improved prognostication methods are sought. L3 skeletal muscle index (L3SMI) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels are accepted surrogate markers of sarcopenia and related frailty. We aimed to evaluate the potential association of these markers with NSCLC patients’ survival. Methods: A retrospective, single-center study of an NSCLC patients’ cohort. L3SMI was calculated based on skeletal muscle area on computed tomography scans at the level of the L3 vertebra. Clinical data were extracted from clinical charts. Results: A total of 140 patients (56.4% males,median age 66 [range 37-86])were included in this study, 32% were diagnosed at stage 3 and 45% at stage 4.During the follow-up duration (median of 1.9 years; range 1 month to 6.4 years), 102 patients (72.8%) died. Patients’ characteristics that were found to be associated with increased mortality were performance status, albumin and tumor stage at diagnosis. Sarcopenia, defined as low L3SMI (lower than 41 cm2/m2 for women and lower than 53 cm2/m2 for men) was significantly associated with higher risk of mortality compared with patients with normal L3SMI values (77.2%, vs 64.6%, p=0.013) in univariate analysis, but not in a multiple regression analysis. Conclusion: Low L3SMI could serve as a surrogate marker for sarcopenia and frailty and, as such, facilitate the prognostication process of NSCLC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2579-2588
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Management and Research
StatePublished - 2019


  • ALT
  • Lung cancer
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcopenia
  • Skeletal muscle index
  • Tomography


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