Sarcopenia as an early complication of patients with head and neck cancer with dysphagia

Head and Neck Cancer

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2020 Oct 12:e13343. doi: 10.1111/ecc.13343. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between dysphagia and sarcopenia in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC).

METHODS: A cross-sectional, prospective study, sample by convenience, including men with HNC during their initial oncologic evaluation. Patients answered questionnaires (demographic data, lifestyle habits, disease characteristics and the Short International Physical Activity Questionnaire). Swallowing capacity, bioelectrical impedance (BIA), handgrip strength (HGS) and physical performance test (Timed Up and Go test) were evaluated. Sarcopenia was diagnosed following the European Working Group on Sarcopenia and Foundation for the National Institute of Health criterion.

RESULTS: 71 men, elderly (66.9 ± 6.25 years) and adults (53.17 ± 3.66 years), were divided into the dysphagic group (DG, 44) and the non-dysphagic group (NDG, 27). The DG presented lower body mass index (BMI), lower skeletal muscle mass and a higher number of sarcopenic individuals than the NDG (p < 0.05). The degree of dysphagia was associated with weight loss (p = 0.006) but not with sarcopenia (p = 0.084) in the DG. The multivariate analysis showed that age, percentage of weight loss and BMI interfered with pre-sarcopenia, and only age influenced sarcopenia (p < 0.005).

CONCLUSION: Patients with dysphagia had a high prevalence of sarcopenia in the pre-treatment phase, related to age.