Albumin concentrations are primarily determined by the body cell mass and the systemic inflammatory response in cancer patients with weight loss

Nutr Cancer. 2001;39(2):210-3. doi: 10.1207/S15327914nc392_8.


The association between hypoalbuminemia and poor prognosis in patients with cancer is well recognized. However, the factors that contribute to the fall in albumin concentrations are not well understood. In the present study, we examined the relationship between circulating albumin concentrations, weight loss, the body cell mass (measured using total body potassium), and the presence of an inflammatory response (measured using C-reactive protein) in male patients (n = 40) with advanced lung or gastrointestinal cancer. Albumin concentrations were significantly correlated with the percent ideal body weight (r = 0.390, p < 0.05), extent of reported weight loss (r = -0.492, p < 0.01), percent predicted total body potassium (adjusted for age, height, and weight, r = 0.686, p < 0.001), and log10 C-reactive protein concentrations (r = -0.545, p < 0.001). On multiple regression analysis, the percent predicted total body potassium and log10 C-reactive protein concentrations accounted for 63% of the variation in albumin concentrations (r2 = 0.626, p < 0.001). The interrelationship between albumin, body cell mass, and the inflammatory response is consistent with the concept that the presence of an ongoing inflammatory response contributes to the progressive loss of these vital protein components of the body and the subsequent death of patients with advanced cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood
  • Colonic Neoplasms / complications
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / blood
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications
  • Potassium / analysis*
  • Prognosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Serum Albumin / analysis*
  • Serum Albumin / deficiency
  • Stomach Neoplasms / blood
  • Stomach Neoplasms / complications
  • Weight Loss*


  • Serum Albumin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Potassium