02.05.2022 | Original Article
Impact of a ketogenic diet intervention during radiotherapy on body composition: V. Final results of the KETOCOMP study for head and neck cancer patients
Rainer J. Klement, Ph.D., Reinhart A. Sweeney, M.D.
Strahlentherapie und Onkologie
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Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) are at risk of malnutrition, especially during radiochemotherapy. We aimed to study the impact of a ketogenic diet (KD) versus an unspecified standard diet (SD) on body composition and survival in HNC patients undergoing radio(chemo)therapy.
As part of a controlled clinical trial, non-metastasized HNC patients were enrolled into either a KD (N = 11) or an SD (N = 21) group between May 2015 and May 2021. Body composition was measured weekly by bioimpedance analysis and analyzed using linear mixed effects models. Overall and progression-free survival was assessed during regular follow-up.
A total of 7 KD and 21 SD patients completed the study and were eligible for comparative analysis. Chemotherapy was significantly associated with declines in all body composition parameters, while the KD had opposing, yet nonsignificant effects. In patients receiving chemotherapy, average weekly reductions of body mass (BM) and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) were 0.9 kg and 0.31 kg in the KD group versus 1.2 kg and 0.57 kg in the SD group, respectively. Patients in the KD group receiving no chemotherapy achieved an average increase of 0.04 kg BM and 0.12 kg SMM per week. After a median follow-up of 42 months (range 6.7–78 months) there were no significant differences in progression-free or overall survival between the groups.
The KD may partially counteract the detrimental effects of radiochemotherapy on body composition in HNC patients. This should encourage further research into KDs in frail cancer patient populations and motivate their implementation as complementary therapy for selected patients.