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Body composition and dietary intake in patients with head and neck cancer during radiotherapy: a longitudinal study

Abstract

Objectives To investigate the body composition and dietary intake in the patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) during radiotherapy (RT), and explore the relationship between them.

Methods This was a prospective, longitudinal observational study. Adult patients with HNC undergoing RT between March 2017 and August 2018 were recruited. Patients’ body compositions were evaluated by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and dietary intake was recorded by 24-hour dietary recall at three time points, including baseline (T1), mid-treatment (T2) and post-treatment (T3). Patients were divided into low, middle and high energy intake groups based on the average daily energy intake (DEI). Changes in body weight (BW), fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM) and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) among these three groups were compared.

Results From T1 to T3, the median loss of patients’ BW, FM, FFM and SMM was 4.60, 1.90, 2.60 and 1.50 kg, respectively. The loss of BW was more dramatic from T2 to T3 than that from T1 to T2. BW loss was mainly contributed by SMM loss from T1 to T2 and by FM loss from T2 to T3. Meanwhile, patients’ dietary intake reduced during treatment. High DEI group had a significantly attenuated loss of patients’ BW, FFM, SMM and FM compared with the low DEI group.

Conclusion Patients’ BW, FM, FFM and SMM all significantly reduced, especially from T2 to T3, with decreased DEI during RT, which stresses the importance of nutrition intervention during the whole course of RT.

  • head and neck

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