Malnutrition in Patients With Cancer: Comparison of Perceptions by Patients, Relatives, and Physicians-Results of the NutriCancer2012 Study

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2018 Jan;42(1):255-260. doi: 10.1177/0148607116688881. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


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: NCT01999413.

Keywords: caregiver; malnutrition; nutrition intervention; quality of life; supportive care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Physicians
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Associated data