Systemic inflammation, nutritional status and survival in patients with cancer

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 May;12(3):223-6. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32832a7902.


Purpose of review: There is now good evidence in humans that a chronic systemic inflammatory response results in the cardinal features of cancer cachexia, principally the progressive loss of weight (in particular lean tissue). This review examines the role of recent simple objective systemic inflammation-based scores in predicting reduction of nutritional status and survival.

Recent findings: The most common measure of the systemic inflammatory response in cancer patients has been an elevated C-reactive protein concentration. This has now been included in recent definitions of cancer cachexia. There are also recent systemic inflammation-based scores, the Glasgow Prognostic Score, Neutrophil Lymphocyte Ratio and the Platelet Lymphocyte Ratio that have been shown to have prognostic value in cancer patients. These scores, in particular the Glasgow Prognostic Score, enable identification of patients who are, or likely, to develop cachexia, have a poor response to treatment and who are likely to have poor survival.

Summary: A chronic systemic inflammatory response is clearly implicated in the progressive nutritional and functional decline in the cancer patients and their subsequent poor outcome. Systemic inflammation-based prognostic scores not only identify patients at risk but also provide well defined therapeutic targets for future clinical trials targeting nutritional decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cachexia / metabolism*
  • Cachexia / mortality
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Prognosis
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Serum Albumin
  • C-Reactive Protein