Goals of work Critical weight loss (>= 5% in 1 month or >= 10% in 6 months) is a common phenomenon in head and neck cancer patients. It is unknown which complaints are most strongly related to critical weight loss in head and neck cancer patients at the time of diagnosis. The aim of this explorative study was to assess the prevalence of critical weight loss and to analyze risk factors for critical weight loss in head and neck cancer patients before treatment.
Materials and methods Critical weight loss and factors reducing dietary intake were assessed in 447 patients referred to an ear, nose and throat clinic at the time of diagnosis.
Main results In total, data of 407 patients were analyzed. Critical weight loss was present in 19% of the patients. Patients with cancer in the hypopharynx, oropharynx/oral cavity and supraglottic larynx had the highest risk for critical weight loss. Loss of appetite, dysphagia/passage difficulties and loss of taste/aversion were significantly (p <0.05) associated with critical weight loss.
Conclusions Already before treatment, critical weight loss is a considerable problem in head and neck cancer patients. Critical weight loss is frequently observed in patients with cancer in the hypopharynx, oropharynx/oral cavity and supraglottic larynx.