Sarcopenia, a strong determinant for prolonged feeding tube dependency after chemoradiotherapy for head and neck cancer

R.T. Karsten, A. Al-Mamgani, S.I. Bril, S. Tjon-A-Joe, L. van der Molen, J.P. de Boer, F.J.M. Hilgers, L.E. Smeele, M.W.M. van den Brekel, M.M. Stuiver

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Background: Sarcopenia might be a relevant lead for optimization of the condition of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) before chemoradiotherapy (CRT) to prevent long-term functional swallowing impairment, such as feeding tube dependency. Methods: Regression analyses were performed to assess the association between skeletal muscle mass index (SMI), as a measure of sarcopenia, and prolonged (>90 days) feeding tube dependency in 128 patients with HNC treated with primary CRT. Results: Sixty-one patients (48%) became prolonged feeding tube-dependent. Lower SMI increased the risk of prolonged feeding tube dependency in multivariable analysis (risk ratio 1.08; 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.14, P =.01) adjusted for body mass index, abnormal diet, and socioeconomic status. Conclusions: Sarcopenia contributes to the risk of prolonged feeding tube dependency of patients with HNC treated with primary CRT. As sarcopenia might be a modifiable factor prior to treatment, it should be explored as a target for pretreatment patients' condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4000-4008
Number of pages9
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number11
Early online date31 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • chemoradiotherapy
  • head and neck cancer
  • sarcopenia
  • skeletal muscle mass
  • tube feeding

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