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The patient-generated subjective global assessment is a promising screening tool for cancer cachexia


Background Cancer cachexia is a complex metabolic syndrome characterised by a loss of muscle with or without loss of fat mass, and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Despite its clinical importance, there is a lack of simple tools to screen patients for cancer cachexia. The aim of this study was to evaluate and validate the patient-generated subjective global assessment (PG-SGA) as a screening tool for cancer cachexia.

Methods This is a secondary analysis of a multicentre, cross-sectional, observational study. Cancer cachexia was diagnosed when there was weight loss ≥5% during the past 12 months and at least three of the five following conditions were present: decreased muscle strength, fatigue, anorexia, low Fat-Free Mass Index (FFMI) and abnormal laboratory findings. A quadratic discriminant analysis was conducted for the ability of PG-SGA to predict cachexia.

Results A total of 4231 patients with cancer were included in this analysis, and 351 patients (8.3%) were diagnosed as having cachexia. The highest incidence of cachexia was found among patients with pancreatic cancer (32.5%), oesophageal cancer (21.5%) and gastric cancer (17.9%). Compared with patients without cachexia, patients with cachexia had a lower body mass index, FFMI, hand grip strength, total protein, prealbumin, albumin, haemoglobin and Karnofsky performance status (p<0.05), while they had a higher C reactive protein level and PG-SGA Score (4.71±3.71 vs 10.87±4.84, p<0.05). The best cut-off value for PG-SGA was 6.5, with 79.8% of sensitivity and 72.3% specificity for cachexia, and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.846 (95% CI 0.826 to 0.866, p<0.001).

Conclusions PG-SGA is a highly specific tool that can be used to screen patients for cancer cachexia.

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The processed data required to reproduce these findings cannot be shared at this time as the data also form part of an ongoing study.

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