A prospective nutritional assessment using Mini Nutritional Assessment-short form among patients with head and neck cancer receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy



No gold standard of nutritional assessment is established among patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT). This study aimed to evaluate the clinical significance of pre-treatment nutritional status using the Mini Nutritional Assessment-short form (MNA-SF) among HNC patients receiving CCRT.


A total of 461 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed HNC treated with definitive CCRT at three medical institutes were prospectively enrolled. Nutritional status was assessed using MNA-SF within 7 days before CCRT initiation. Patients were classified as having normal nutrition, at risk of malnutrition, and malnourished groups according to MNA-SF for comparison.


The 1-year overall survival rates were 89.8%, 76.8%, and 67.7% in the normal nutrition, at risk of malnutrition, and malnourished groups, respectively. Patients with normal nutrition had significantly lower rates of uncompleted radiotherapy and chemotherapy (4.5% and 4.1%, respectively) compared with patients at risk for malnutrition (14.1% and 11.5%, respectively) and those malnourished (11.1% and 11.1%, respectively). Patients with normal nutrition had significantly lower treatment-related complication rates regarding emergency room visits, hospital admission, and need for tubal feeding than those with at risk of malnutrition and malnourished. Patients with normal nutrition had significantly fewer severe hematologic toxicities (p = 0.044) and severe non-hematologic toxicities (p = 0.012) of CCRT than those malnourished.


Pre-CCRT nutritional status identifies HNC patients vulnerable to treatment interruption and treatment complications. We suggest that nutritional assessment with MNA-SF should be incorporated in pre-CCRT evaluation for all HNC patients.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge Miss Vengi Ho and the support from the Cancer Center of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan.

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Correspondence to Wen-Chi Chou.

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The study protocol was approved by the institutional review board at all study sites (no. 1608080002).

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Hung, CY., Hsueh, SW., Lu, CH. et al. A prospective nutritional assessment using Mini Nutritional Assessment-short form among patients with head and neck cancer receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy. Support Care Cancer 29, 1509–1518 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05634-3

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  • Head and neck cancer
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Mini Nutrition Assessment
  • Treatment completeness