The nutritional risk in oncology: a study of 1,453 cancer outpatients

Support Care Cancer. 2012 Aug;20(8):1919-28. doi: 10.1007/s00520-012-1387-x.


Purpose: There is little information about the nutritional status of cancer outpatients because the practice of nutritional screening is rarely performed. This study aims to define the pattern of scores of nutritional risk in 1,453 outpatients and factors associated with a high nutrition risk score, to facilitate the identification of such patients by the oncologists.

Methods: We prospectively screened the nutritional status of cancer outpatients according to the NRS-2002 score which combines indicators of malnutrition and of severity of the disease (1-3 points, respectively). A score ≥ 3 indicates "nutritional risk". The association of the nutritional scores with some patient/tumour/therapy-related variables was investigated through univariable and multivariable linear regression models.

Results: Thirty-two percent of outpatients were at nutritional risk. Primary tumour site, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score and presence of anorexia or fatigue were significantly associated with the nutrition risk score. Depending on the combination of these variables, it was possible to estimate different probabilities of nutritional risk.

Conclusions: The frequency of a relevant nutritional risk was higher than expected considering the favourably selected population. The nutritional risk was associated with common clinical variables which are usually recorded in the charts and could easily alert the oncologist on the need of a further nutritional assessment or a nutritional support.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index