Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 10, Issue 9, pp 579–582 | Cite as

Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) in cancer patients

  • Jaime Sanz OrtizEmail author
  • José Andrés Moreno Nogueira
  • Abelardo García de Lorenzo y Mateos
Brief Research Articles



Cancer patients show protein energy malnutrition (PEM) throughout the evolution of the disease. The main objective of this work is to find out the prevalence of PEM in the studied sample, as well as how to assess the nutritional state of patients.

Material and methods

Non-interventionist, longitudinal and prospective study. Cancer patients from 103 researchers (6 specialties) from 65 hospitals of 15 Spanish Autonomous Communities.


561 patients were included in the study. The mean age was 62.6 years and 68.8% were men. The average basal body mass index (BMI) was 22.1 kg/m2. In 18.2% the BMI was low; 21.6% were overweight, pre-obese or obese; 22.9% had a localised tumour and 77.1% had an advanced one, first and foremost located in the head and neck, digestive system and lungs. In 72.7% of cases, it was treated with chemotherapy (CT) and in 38.3% with CT and radiotherapy (RT). 96.4% had nutrition problems: 70.9% (398/561) had anorexia, 34.8% (195/561) gastrointestinal problems, 32.6% (183/561) dysgeusia, 40.5% (227/561) dysphagia and others 8.6% (48/561). Weight loss occurred in 90.7% (an average of 4.2 months).


If we analyse the BMI of patients, it can be seen that 60.2% have an adequate weight according to their size against 17.3% of patients who are overweight or preobese, and the remaining 4.3% are obese. Only 18.2% of patients are underweight. Over 90% have suffered recent weight loss.


Protein energy malnutrition Nutritional status Cancer patient Overweight Obesity 


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Copyright information

© Feseo 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaime Sanz Ortiz
    • 1
    Email author
  • José Andrés Moreno Nogueira
    • 2
  • Abelardo García de Lorenzo y Mateos
    • 3
  1. 1.University Hospital “Marqués de Valdecilla”Santander, CantabriaSpain
  2. 2.University Hospital Virgen del RocíoSevillaSpain
  3. 3.Intensive Care MedicineHospital Universitario La PazMadridSpain

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