Nutrition impact symptoms: key determinants of reduced dietary intake, weight loss, and reduced functional capacity of patients with head and neck cancer before treatment

Head Neck. 2010 Mar;32(3):290-300. doi: 10.1002/hed.21174.


Background: Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence and relationship of symptoms with reduced dietary intake, weight, and functional capacity in patients with head and neck cancer.

Methods: Three hundred forty-one patients were prospectively screened with the patient-generated subjective global assessment before treatment. Logistic analysis was used to relate symptoms to reduced dietary intake, weight, and functional capacity. Cumulative hazard analysis was performed to determine the time and risk of weight loss of each symptom. Survival analysis was performed with Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: Anorexia, dysphagia, mouth sores, and others were significant predictors of reduced dietary intake and weight. Symptom presence accelerated the time and probability of weight loss. Body mass index < or = 18.5 related to overall survival (p value = .001).

Conclusions: Symptoms present before treatment may adversely affect the dietary intake, weight, and functional capacity of patients. Symptom treatment and management is critical to weight loss prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appetite Regulation*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cachexia / epidemiology*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Weight Loss*
  • Young Adult