Background: Malnutrition is a critical predictor of toxicity and outcome in patients with cancer and may be perceived differently by patients, relatives, and physicians.
Aims: To assess the prevalence of malnutrition in oncology departments and to compare it with the perceptions of nutrition status by patients themselves, their closest relatives, and attending physicians.
Materials and methods: A 1-day multicentric cross-sectional survey on the prevalence of malnutrition was conducted in different oncology departments using patient-, relative-, and physician-specific questionnaires. Malnutrition was defined by a weight loss ≥5% within 1 month or ≥10% within 6 months, a body mass index ≤18.5 kg/m2 in patients aged <70 years or ≤21 kg/m2 in patients aged ≥70 years, and/or albuminemia <35 g/L. Questionnaires for assessing medical condition, knowledge of nutrition status, and perceptions of the impact of malnutrition on daily life were distributed to consenting patients, attending physicians, and closest relatives.
Results: A total of 2197 patients were included, and 2071 and 976 questionnaires were collected from patients and relatives, respectively. Prevalence of malnutrition was 39%. Physicians overestimated malnutrition (44%), whereas patients and relatives underestimated it (22% and 23%, respectively, P < .001). Conversely, malnutrition-associated symptoms were underestimated by physicians compared with patients and relatives.
Conclusion: We found a prevalence of malnutrition of 39%: it was underestimated by patients and relatives and overestimated by physicians.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01999413.
Keywords: caregiver; malnutrition; nutrition intervention; quality of life; supportive care.
© 2017 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.