Female Cancer Survivors Have Greater Risk of Malnutrition

Female cancer survivors, compared to males, are more likely to be at moderate-high risk of malnutrition, a study discovered.

The study examined malnutrition risk, handgrip strength, and quality of life (QOL). A total of 232 cancer survivors filled out a demographic questionnaire, Patient‐Generated Subjective Global Assessment Short Form, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QOL Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ‐C30). A spring-loaded handgrip dynamometer was used to assess handgrip strength. An oncology nurse took anthropometric measurements.

Most of the cancer survivors who took part in the study were female (n=141; 60.8%) and were survivors of breast cancer (n=62; 26.7%). The mean ± standard deviation (SD) body mass index (BMI) was 26.6 kg/m2 ± 6.2 kg/m2. Just under a third of survivors said they were seeing a dietitian (n=68; 29.3%), while just over a third said they had recently lost weight (n=88; 37.3%). Roughly two in five patients were at moderate-to-high risk of malnutrition (n=95; 40.9%), and female survivors were more likely than males to have moderate-to-high risk (P=0.01). Mean ± SD handgrip strength was 25 ± 15 kg, with significant differences based on gender (P=0.00), cancer type (P=0.01), and BMI classification (P=0.01). About one in five patients were determined to have dynapenia (n=48; 21.1%). The median QOL score was 66.7 (interquartile range, 33.3), with differences in various subscales; the proportion of patients meeting the clinical threshold for the subscales was as low as 12.5% for constipation and up to 42.7% for physical functioning. Compared to male survivors, female cancer survivors had higher odds of meeting the thresholds for physical functioning (P=0.00), fatigue (P=0.02), and pain (P=0.01).

The study was published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.