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Quality of life and its relation with nutritional status in patients with incurable cancer in palliative care

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Nutritional impairment is common in cancer patients and adversely affects quality of life (QoL). The aim of this study was to investigate the association between nutritional status and QoL in incurable cancer patients in palliative care.


A prospective cohort with incurable cancer patients referred to the specialized Palliative Care Unit of the National Cancer Institute in Brazil was conducted. The nutritional risk (NR) was assessed using the Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment short form (PG-SGA SF), and cancer cachexia (CC) was defined according to the international consensus. QoL was evaluated using the Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 15 Palliative (QLQ-C15-PAL). Multivariate linear regressions analyses were performed to assess the relationship between the nutritional status and QoL scores.


A total of 1039 consecutive patients were included. A high prevalence of NR (85.4%) and CC (78.7%) were observed. The patients with worse nutritional status presented significantly poorer physical, emotional, symptoms domains scales, and overall QoL. CC were significantly associated with QoL scores for dyspnea (p = 0.013), insomnia (p = 0.046), and appetite loss (p = 0.015), while NR were associated with all the QoL domains scales covered in QLQ-C15-PAL.


Our findings support that impaired nutritional status was associated with poor QoL in incurable cancer patients. NR assessed by PG-SGA SF better reflects physical, emotional, symptom burden, and overall QoL scores. Thus, this tool may contribute in identifying patients at risk of deterioration QoL.

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Correspondence to Livia Costa de Oliveira.

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de Oliveira, L.C., Abreu, G.T., Lima, L.C. et al. Quality of life and its relation with nutritional status in patients with incurable cancer in palliative care. Support Care Cancer (2020).

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  • Nutritional status
  • Cachexia
  • Malnutrition
  • Incurable cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Palliative care