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Nutritional parameters associated with hospital admissions in patients being treated for head and neck cancer


PURPOSE: This study analysed nutritional parameters (baseline body mass index (BMI), weight changes and enteral nutrition (EN) use, and their association with hospital admissions during radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC)). METHODS: A retrospective review of patients diagnosed with HNC and treated with radiotherapy between October 2012 and April 2014 was conducted. Data on each subject's diagnosis, age, sex, chemotherapy, previous surgery, EN use, weight changes, and BMI were examined for their association with hospital admissions during treatment. RESULTS: Eighty-three patients were included, mean age (+/-standard deviation) = 61 (+/- 11 years). Thirty-four percent had self-reported weight loss at diagnosis, and mean BMI was 26.2 +/- 5.3 kg/m(2). Mean weight change during treatment was - 5.1 +/- 6.2%. Ten patients used EN, with mean weight stabilisation during EN use (0.3 +/- 5.1%). Higher presenting BMI, younger age, and definitive radiotherapy +/- chemotherapy predicted greater weight loss (p < 0.05). Critical weight loss >/= 5% was associated with a higher number of hospital admissions for nutrition reasons (n = 10) (p = 0.011) compared with those without critical weight loss (n = 2). EN use was associated with a higher number of nutrition-related admissions; however, it did not predict length of stay among those admitted. CONCLUSION: Critical weight loss during radiotherapy was associated with unplanned nutrition-related hospital admissions. Higher BMI was associated with greater weight loss during radiotherapy, whilst EN use assisted in weight preservation. Further research around patient selection for nutritional interventions aimed at preventing critical weight loss and unplanned hospital admissions is needed.

Type Journal
ISBN 1433-7339 (Electronic) 0941-4355 (Linking)
Authors Duffy, A. M.; Halaki, M.; Spigelman, A.; Chin, V.; Gallagher, R. M.; Flood, V. M.
Published Date 2020-01-31
Published Volume 28
Published Issue 1
Published Pages 341-349
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1007/s00520-019-04826-w
URL link to publisher's version