(HealthDay News) — The prevalence of malnutrition is high among older, Brazilian patients hospitalized for cancer, according to a study published online Sept. 9 in Cancer.

Nivaldo B. de Pinho, Ph.D., from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and colleagues used data from 4,783 patients with cancer aged ≥20 years who were admitted to 45 public Brazilian hospitals to evaluate the prevalence of malnutrition. The Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment was used to assess nutritional status, nutritional risk, and nutrition impact symptoms (NIS).

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The researchers found that in patients aged ≥65 years, the prevalence of moderate/suspected and severe malnutrition was 55 percent compared with 45.4 percent in those aged 51 to 64 years and 36.1 percent in those aged ≤50 years. The NIS with a higher risk for occurrence in older patients included no appetite (odds ratio, 1.90) and dry mouth (odds ratio, 1.40). Compared with those aged ≤50 years, patients between ages 51 and 64 years had a higher risk for no appetite (odds ratio, 1.45), dry mouth (odds ratio, 1.22), and problems with swallowing (odds ratio, 1.56).

“Nutritional screening and assessment should be performed immediately after hospitalization to enable early diagnosis and multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary intervention(s),” the authors write.

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