Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3261–3270

Handgrip strength predicts survival and is associated with markers of clinical and functional outcomes in advanced cancer patients

  • R. D. Kilgour
  • A. Vigano
  • B. Trutschnigg
  • E. Lucar
  • M. Borod
  • J. A. Morais
Original Article



Handgrip strength (HGS) has been shown to predict survival and is associated with changes in body composition, nutritional status, inflammation, and functional ability in several chronic disease conditions. Whether similar relationships exist between HGS and clinical outcomes in patients with advanced cancer are currently unknown. We evaluated the association between HGS and survival as well as several key markers of body composition (e.g., sarcopenia), subjective performance measures (e.g., quality of life), and muscle strength (e.g., isokinetic torque of the quadriceps) in patients with advanced forms of non-small cell lung and gastrointestinal cancers.


A consecutive cohort of 203 patients with advanced cancer was enrolled and categorized into three HGS percentiles (e.g., ≥50th, 25th, and ≤10th) according to published normative values. Multivariate regression analyses were used to test for independent associations between HGS and survival, sarcopenia, quality of life (QoL), and lower extremity muscle strength as well as key biological markers (e.g., hemoglobin, albumin, and C-reactive protein) while controlling for age, gender, cancer diagnosis, treatment (chemotherapy/radiotherapy), medications, and time from diagnosis to assessment.


When compared to HGS ≥50th, patients in the HGS ≤10th percentile had lower BMI (B, −2.5 kg/m2; 95% CI, −4.5 to −0.45), shorter survival (hazard ratio, 3.2; 2.0–5.1), lower hemoglobin (−19.70 g/L; −27.28 to −12.13) and albumin (−4.99 g/L; −7.85 to −2.13), greater occurrence of sarcopenia (odds ratio, 9.53; 1.95–46.55), lower isokinetic torque of the quadriceps at both 60°/s (−30.6 Nm; −57.9 to −3.3) and 120°/s (−25.1 Nm; −46.4 to −3.7), lower QoL (−1.6 on McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire scale; −2.5 to −0.6), higher levels of fatigue (18.8 on Brief Fatigue Inventory scale; 4.7 –32.9), poorer performance status (0.75 on Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status scale; 0.34–1.15), lower fat mass (−7.4 kg; −14.4 to −0.5), and lower lean body mass (−6.5 kg; −10.3 to −2.8).


HGS is independently associated with survival and important biological, functional, and quality of life characteristics in advanced cancer patients. Patients presenting with very low percentiles with respect to their handgrip assessment may require timely referral to supportive and/or palliative care services.


Handgrip Survival Sarcopenia Quality of life Strength Advanced cancer 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Kilgour
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Vigano
    • 1
    • 3
  • B. Trutschnigg
    • 1
  • E. Lucar
    • 1
  • M. Borod
    • 3
  • J. A. Morais
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.McGill Nutrition and Performance LaboratoryMcGill University Health Centre (MUHC)MontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Exercise Science, The Richard J. Renaud Science ComplexConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Supportive and Palliative Care ProgramMUHCMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Division of GeriatricsMUHCMontrealCanada

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