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Br J Cancer. 2010 Mar 16;102(6):966-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605578. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

Prevalence, risk factors and clinical implications of malnutrition in French Comprehensive Cancer Centres.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Institut Claudius Regaud, 20-24 rue du Pont Saint-Pierre, Toulouse, France.



This epidemiological observational study aimed at determining the prevalence of malnutrition in non-selected adults with cancer, to identify risk factors of malnutrition and correlate the results with length of stay and 2-month mortality.


This prospective multicentre 1-day study conducted in 17 French Comprehensive Cancer Centres included 1545 patients. Body mass index (BMI), weight loss (WL) in the past 6 months and age were routinely recorded according to the French national recommendations for hospitalised patients; malnutrition was rated as absent, moderate or severe according to the level of WL and BMI. Age, sex, tumour site, type of hospitalisation and treatment, disease stage, World Health Organisation performance status (PS) and antibiotic therapy were the potential malnutrition risk factors tested. Follow-up at 2 months allowed to determine the correlation with length of stay and mortality.


Malnutrition was reported in 30.9% of patients, and was rated as severe in 12.2%. In multivariate analysis, only pre-existing obesity (BMI> or =30), PS > or =2 and head-and-neck or upper digestive cancers were associated with increased risk of malnutrition. Antibiotics use was significantly higher in malnourished patients (35.5 vs 22.8%; P<0.001). Severe malnutrition was independently associated with mortality. The median length of stay was 19.3+/-19.4 days for malnourished patients vs 13.3+/-19.4 days for others (P<0.0001).


In French Comprehensive Cancer Centres, one out of three cancer patients are malnourished and this was associated with a longer length of stay. Pre-existing obesity could be identified as a new risk factor for malnutrition in our cancer patient population perhaps because of a misidentification or a delay in nutrition support in this category of patients.

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