Vitamin B12 levels can predict life expectancy in metastatic cancer

New research has indicated that serum vitamin B12 levels may be useful for the prediction of life expectancy in metastatic solid cancer patients. Prediction based on vitamin B12 levels could help clinician make better decisions regarding the appropriateness of aggressive anticancer therapy.

Metastatic cancer is incurable and its prognosis is poor. Medical teams have to make a choice between anticancer therapies to prolong the survival time and supportive care to manage patient symptoms according to individual circumstances. Although anticancer therapies could improve overall survival time in metastatic cancer patients, the toxic effects of aggressive treatment can be detrimental.

A study led by Dr. Sung Nim Han and published in the Nutrition and Cancer journal investigated the characteristics of patients with elevated serum vitamin B12 levels and the relationship between survival time and serum vitamin B12 levels among metastatic cancer patients with various solid tumours. A retrospective chart review was conducted to identify factors that could be used as indicators for poor survival time in patients with metastatic cancer. Researchers found that the median survival time was 1.8 months (mo) in the high B12 group and 5.1 mo in the normal B12 group. In patients without a liver lesion, the median survival times were 2.1 and 6.1 mo in the high and normal B12 groups, respectively. Multivariate analysis revealed that serum vitamin B12 level was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival.

The results of this study suggest that serum vitamin B12 level can be used to predict survival time in metastatic cancer patients. Further large-scale cohort studies are required to confirm these findings in metastatic cancer patients.

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