Background and purpose: Although patients with early stage (T1/T2) laryngeal cancer (LC) are thought to have a low incidence of malnutrition, severe weight loss is observed in a subgroup of these patients during radiotherapy (RI). The objective of this study was to evaluate weight loss and nutrition-related symptoms in patients with T1/T2 LC during RI and to select predictive factors for early identification of malnourished patients.
Methods: Of all patients with T1/T2 LC, who received primary RI between 1999 and 2007, the following characteristics were recorded: sex, age, TNM classification, tumour location, radiation schedule, performance status, quality of life, weight loss, and nutrition-related symptoms. The association between baseline characteristics and malnutrition (>5% weight loss during RT) was investigated by Cox regression analysis.
Results: The study population consisted of 238 patients. During RI, 44% of patients developed malnutrition. Tumour location, TNM classification, RI on the neck nodes, RI dose, nausea/vomiting, pain, swallowing, senses problems, trouble with social eating, dry mouth and the use of painkillers were all significantly associated with malnutrition. In the multivariate analysis, both RI on the neck nodes (HR 4.16, 95% CI 2.62-6.60) and dry mouth (HR 1.72, 95% CI 1.14-2.60) remained predictive. Nevertheless, RI on the neck nodes alone resulted in the best predictive model for malnutrition scores.
Conclusions: Patients with early stage laryngeal cancer are at risk of malnutrition during radiotherapy. Radiotherapy on the neck nodes is the best predictor of malnutrition during radiotherapy. Therefore, we suggest to offer nutritional counselling to all the patients who receive nodal irradiation. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. Radiotherapy and Oncology 97 (2010) 80-85