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Malnutrition risk and frailty in head and neck cancer patients: a review


Article: Malnutrition risk and frailty in head and neck cancer patients: coexistent but distinct conditions

For patients with head and neck cancer, malnutrition and frailty are linked with adverse treatment outcomes, higher mortality rates, complications post-surgery and generally lower quality of life. However, the relationship between malnutrition and frailty is not fully known. It is, however, clear that these two conditions often coexist, suggesting they may share similar risk factors. In this study on 197 patients, it was found that the risk of malnutrition is strongly positively associated with frailty. However, some other interesting factors were discovered. Alcohol consumption was shown to present a greater risk of developing malnutrition, but on the other hand, alcohol consumption seems protective for being frail. Overall, these conditions often coexist but do not always fully overlap: screening for both conditions is therefore recommended.

This review by Dewansingh P et al aimed to understand the relationship between the risk of malnutrition and frailty in patients with head and neck cancer.

Key learnings Screening for both malnutrition and frailty in head and neck cancer patients will help to identify different types of health-related problems. Furthermore, this may allow for better, individualised interventions, such as nutritional interventions or psychosocial support. Understanding malnutrition and frailty is especially important because patients who are malnourished and/or frail during cancer treatments face a high risk of wound healing disorders, increasing the already-heavy burden of cancer on the patient.

Reviewed by: Z. Beketova

Authors: Dewansingh P, Bras L, Ter Beek L, et al.

Published in: Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2022

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