Malnutrition is frequent in older cancer patients, with a prevalence that ranges from 25% to 85%. The aging process is associated with several physiological changes, which may have implications for nutritional status. Screening tools can be useful for identifying malnutrition status among older patients with cancer.
A hospital-based multicenter cohort study that included 44 institutions in Brazil. The Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form (MNA-SF) was administered to 3061 older hospitalized cancer patients within 48 hoursof admission. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to test the sample distribution, considering sex, age range, calf circumference, body mass index, and MNA-SF score and classification. The categorical data were expressed by frequencies (n) and percentages (%)and compared using the chi-square test or Tukey test.
According to the results of the MNA-SF, 33.4% of the patients were malnourished, 39.3% were at risk of malnutrition, and 27.3% were classified as having normal nutritional status. Length of hospital stay (in days) was found to be longer for those patients with a poorer nutritional status (malnourished: 7.07±7.58; at risk of malnutrition: 5.45±10.73; normal status: 3.9±5,84; p <0.001).
The prevalence of malnutrition and nutritional risk is high in older hospitalized cancer patients in all the regions of Brazil and a worse nutritional status is associated with a longer hospital stay. Using a low-cost, effective nutritional screening tool for older cancer patients will enable specialized nutritional interventions and avoid inequities in the quality of cancer care worldwide.