Norsuhaila, S., Ani Norita, M.S., Tan, S. E., Chong, C.T.
Department of Dietetics and Foodservice, Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Introduction: Cancer patients are particularly at high risk for malnutrition associated with the disease and its treatment. Malnutrition risk increases with age and is common in older cancer patients. Malnutrition is likely to develop and worsen during specific cancer treatments, especially when early and appropriate nutrition intervention is not implemented properly.
Objective(s): This study aims to identify the nutritional risk among oncology inpatients referred to dietitians.
This is a cross sectional study of hospitalized oncology patients at Institute Radiotherapy and Oncology, Hospital Kuala Lumpur. The nutritional risk was assessed using the Malnutrition Screening Tool (MST) which consists of two questions related to recent weight loss and appetite. A score equal or greater than two indicates at risk of malnutrition. Data on height (m), weight (kg) and Body Mass Index (kg/m2) were calculated and nutritional status were determined.
Results & Discussion
The data included 292 adult patients, age ≥ 18 years old (58% men) with mean age of 55.9 ± 12.8 years. 83% were nutritionally at risk according to MST and 95% of them experienced weight loss. More than half of the patients (53%) had unintentional weight loss in the last 6 months with weight loss more than 6kg (30%) while 70% of patients experienced decrease in appetite. 84% of underweight patients (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2) were at risk of malnutrition. Normal weight or overweight patients may have equal risk of malnutrition as shown in this study (~70%).
MST is a useful tool to identify and stratify patients according to malnutrition risk so that EARLY and comprehensive nutrition intervention can be implemented.