Pretreatment weight status and weight loss among head and neck cancer patients receiving definitive concurrent chemoradiation therapy: implications for nutrition integrated treatment pathways

Support Care Cancer. 2013 Oct;21(10):2825-33. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-1861-0. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Purpose: The purpose was to examine the effect of pretreatment weight status on loco-regional progression for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) after receiving definitive concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CCRT).

Methods: In an expanded cohort of 140 patients, we retrospectively reviewed weight status and loco-regional progression of SCCHN patients treated with CCRT between 2004 and 2010.

Results: Pretreatment ideal body weight percentage (IBW%) was statistically significantly different for patients with disease progression than for those without progression (p = 0.02) but was not an independent predictor of progression. Median pretreatment IBW% was 118 (72-193) for the progression-free group and was 101.5 (73-163) for the group with progression. Both groups suffered clinically severe weight loss of approximately 9 % from baseline to end treatment.

Conclusions: Pretreatment weight status, a very crude indicator of nutrition status, may have prognostic value in patients with SCCHN undergoing definitive CCRT. Inadequate nutritional status in these patients has been associated with poor clinical outcomes and decreased quality of life. Based on this report and others, the best next steps include routine validated malnutrition screening and the testing of evidence-based nutrition care protocols with the goals of minimizing weight loss and improvement of quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Weight Loss*