Sarcopenia is known to be associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes in a variety of malignancies, but its impact in extranodal natural killer/T cell lymphoma, nasal type (ENKTL-NT) is unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the prognostic relevance of sarcopenia defined by MRI-based masticatory muscle index in ENKTL-NT patients. A total of 112 patients with newly diagnosed ENKTL-NT who underwent cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were enrolled. The masticatory skeletal muscle index (M-SMI) was measured based on T2-weighted MR images and sarcopenia was defined by M-SMI<5.5 cm2/ m2. The median M-SMI was 5.47 (4.91-5.96) cm2/m2; 58 were identified with sarcopenia in this cohort. On multivariate analyses, sarcopenia was the only independently risk factor predicting overall survival (HR, 4.590; 95% CI, 1.657-12.715; p = 0.003), progression-free survival (HR, 3.048; 95% CI, 1.515-6.130; p = 0.002), and treatment response (HR, 0.112; 95% CI, 0.042-0.301; p < 0.001). In addition, we found that integrating sarcopenia into prognostic indices could improve the discriminative power of the corresponding original model. Stratification analysis showed that sarcopenia was able to further identify survival differences in patients that could not be distinguished by prognostic models. In summary, our study suggests that sarcopenia defined by MRI-based M-SMI represents a new and routinely applicable prognostic indicator of clinical outcome or predictor of treatment response in ENKTL-NT patients, and may aid in risk stratification and treatment decisions.

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