Einarsson S, et al. Clin Nutr ESPEN 2020.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with head and neck cancer are defined as high-risk patients for malnutrition, but the inconsistent practice of diagnosing malnutrition is a barrier in comparing studies and in assessing patients in clinical practice. The aim of the study was to describe the frequency of malnutrition over time in patients treated for head and neck cancer using the GLIM Criteria for the Diagnosis of Malnutrition.
METHODS: Data from a prospective observational study on patients with head and neck cancer were used (n = 210). Patients were assessed for malnutrition using the combination of one phenotypic and one etiologic criterion. The following phenotypic criteria for malnutrition were used: body weight loss (either >5% within the past six months or >10% beyond six months), body mass index (<20 kg/m2 if <70 years or <22 kg/m2 if ≥70 years), and fat free mass index measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis (<17 FFM/m2 for males and <15 FFM/m2 for females). The following etiologic criteria for malnutrition were used: reduced food intake (partial or no food intake with the need for artificial nutrition) and C-reactive protein (>5 mg/L).
RESULTS: For all eight possible combinations of GLIM, the frequency of malnutrition reached its highest point at seven weeks after the start of treatment. A total of 32% of the patients fulfilled the criteria for malnutrition using weight loss >5% within the past six months (phenotypic) in combination with C-reactive protein >5 mg/L (etiologic).
CONCLUSIONS: GLIM Criteria for the Diagnosis of Malnutrition can be used to assess malnutrition in patients with head and neck cancer during treatment. Using the same criteria to define malnutrition in nutritional research will make it possible to produce multiple lines of evidence on malnutrition in head and neck cancer and its adverse effects on treatment, prognosis, and survival.