Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 301–309 | Cite as

Weight loss in cancer patients: a plea for a better awareness of the issue

  • Luigi MarianiEmail author
  • Salvatore Lo Vullo
  • Federico Bozzetti
  • on behalf of the SCRINIO Working Group
Original Article



Although weight loss is of both prognostic and predictive relevance in oncologic patients, its assessment is often neglected. Aims of the present investigation were to define the prevalence and severity of weight loss in adult outpatients with a variety of solid tumors, and determine the association patterns with patient-, cancer-, and therapy-related factors.


Among an outpatient series of 1,556 cancer patients, weight loss information was obtained for 1,540 patients. Weight loss was analyzed by means of multiple regression models, logistic models, and nomograms, according to age, gender, site of primary, UICC stage, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status, therapy, and symptoms type and degree.


Weight loss, relative to usual body weight, was 7.1% on average in the whole series, and clinically significant (≥10%) in 589 patients (38%). Factors most strongly associated with WL were site of primary, ECOG performance status, anorexia syndrome, and fatigue. These, together with oncologic therapy, were important factors for predicting significant weight loss.


Weight loss turned out to be frequent and clinically significant. We believe that this sign should deserve major attention by the oncologists to pursue the benefits that early nutritional support prospectively yields in terms of quality of life and clinical outcome improvement.


Cancer cachexia Neoplasm Nomogram Nutritional support Weight loss 



The authors declare that no funding supported this study.

The authors acknowledge Nestlé HealthCare for their help in the collection of data from the SCRINIO Centers.

Participating centers and principal collaborators of the SCRINIO Working Group: Asti, Ospedale Card. Massaia: ML Amerio; Belo Horizonte (BRA), University Hospital: I Correia; Candiolo, ASO Mauriziano-Presidio IRCCS: L Rovera, R Bianco, P D’Elia; Cagliari, Ospedale Universitario: G Mantovani, E Massa, C Madeddu; Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center: A. Magzoub Hussein, S Eshki, K Bajunaid; Lucca, Presidio Ospedaliero: M Pellegrini, GR Barsanti, M Battistoni; Massa Carrara, ASL 1: A Giannoni, L Sturlese; Massa Carrara, Ospedale: C Pennucci; Milano, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori: C Gavazzi, C Arcovio, L Licitra; Milano, Istituto Europeo di Oncologia: R Biffi, D Papis, MG Zampino; Orbassano, AOU S. Luigi Gonzaga: P Avagnina, M Tinivella, C Fenoglio; Padova, Ospedale S. Antonio USSL 16: P Magnanini; Pavia, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo: R Caccialanza, B Cameletti, S Rocca; Pinerolo, ASL 10 - Ospedale Civile: V Sidoti, GM Rovera; Prato, Ospedale Misericordia e Dolce: F Bozzetti, A DiLeo; Roma, Ospedale San Pietro Fatebenefratelli: G Capuano, I Pavese, M Tosti; Roma, Ospedale S. Eugenio: G Sandri, P Pizzichino, GM Giorgetti; Rozzano, Istituto Clinico Humanitas: L Cozzaglio, L Despini; Siena, Az. Osp. Universitaria Senese “Le Scotte”: L Di Cosmo; Tolmezzo, Ospedale S. Antonio Abate: E Vigevani; Torino, Ospedale S. Giovanni Battista: E Finocchiaro.

Ethics approval

All participating institutions got the approval of local Ethics Committee to study protocol and informed consent form.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigi Mariani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Salvatore Lo Vullo
    • 1
  • Federico Bozzetti
    • 2
  • on behalf of the SCRINIO Working Group
  1. 1.Unit of Clinical Epidemiology and Trial OrganizationFondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale TumoriMilanItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MilanMilanItaly

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