PURPOSE: Both malnutrition and frailty are associated with adverse treatment outcomes. Malnutrition (risk) and frailty are each commonly present in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). However, their coexistence and association is unknown. Main goal of this study is to determine the coexistence of, and the association between malnutrition risk and frailty in patients with HNC.

METHODS: In this retrospective analysis on prospectively collected data, newly diagnosed patients with HNC, enrolled in the OncoLifeS databiobank were included. The Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment Short Form (PG-SGA SF) was used to assess malnutrition risk. The Groningen Frailty Indicator (GFI) was used to assess frailty status. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed, taking into account several patient- and tumor-related factors.

RESULTS: In total, 197 patients were included. Seventy-six patients (39%) had a medium or high malnutrition risk and 71 patients (36%) were frail. In 38 patients (19%), malnutrition risk coexisted with frailty. Patients with medium and high malnutrition risk were, respectively, 4.0 (95% CI 1.5-11.2) and 13.4 (95% CI 4.0-48.7) times more likely to be frail, compared to patients with low malnutrition risk. In turn, frail patients were 6.4 times (95% CI 2.6-14.9) more likely to have malnutrition risk compared to non-frail patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Malnutrition risk and frailty frequently coexist but not fully overlap in newly diagnosed patients with HNC. Therefore, screening for both conditions is recommended.


  • ondervoeding risico
  • kwetsbaarheid
  • hoofd-halskanker
  • oncologie


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