Malnutrition in Older Adults with Cancer

Curr Oncol Rep. 2019 Jul 29;21(9):80. doi: 10.1007/s11912-019-0829-8.


Purpose of review: Malnutrition is a common and under-recognized geriatric condition in older adults with cancer. This review describes the public health burden, malnutrition prevention, and the relationship among cancer cachexia, malnutrition, and sarcopenia. Finally, clinical practice recommendations on malnutrition and prevention are presented.

Recent findings: Advanced age and cancer stage, frailty, dementia, major depression, functional impairment, and physical performance are important risk factors for malnutrition in older adults with cancer. The Mini Nutrition Assessment (MNA), Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST), and Patient Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA) are the most commonly used assessment tools in older adults with cancer. In addition, malnutrition is independently associated with poor overall survival and quality of life, longer hospital stays, greater hospital cost, and hospital readmission. Comprehensive malnutrition prevention is required for improving the nutrition status among older adults with cancer.

Keywords: Cancer cachexia; Comprehensive geriatric assessment; Dementia; Depression; Frailty; Functional impairment; Gait speed; Malnutrition prevention; Older adult with cancer; Overall survival; Performance status; Quality of life; Risk factors; Sarcopenia; Screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Frailty / etiology
  • Frailty / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / etiology*
  • Malnutrition / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors