Elderly women with breast cancer who report pain or have impaired functional status should be screened for malnutrition, according to research presented in a poster at the 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress.

Researchers conducted a study to determine if pain, cancer stage, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) scores, Timed Up and Go Test (TUAGT) scores, and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) scores can predict scores on the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).

The study included 72 breast cancer patients with a mean age of 78 years (range, 70 to 93 years). Most patients (72.2%) had a diagnosis of infiltrating ductal carcinoma. They had stage 1 (41.7%), stage 2 (25%), stage 3 (6.9%) and stage 4 (26.4%) disease. Roughly half of patients (48.6%) received aromatase inhibitors, and 18.1% received chemotherapy.

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The mean MNA score was 12.21 (malnourished), the mean TUAGT score was 11.57, the mean ADL score was 5.55, the mean GDS score was 2.25, and the mean pain score was 1.17. In multivariate analyses, MNA score correlated significantly with ADL (P =.04) and cancer stage (P =.02).

“Patients who experience pain and have impaired functional status should also be screened for malnutrition,” the researchers wrote in their poster. “Proactive screening prior to clinical signs and symptoms is important to the health of older people undergoing cancer treatment and care.”


Overcash J, Goetz R, Williams N. Pain, depression, and impaired functional status predict malnutrition in older women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Poster presentation at: 48th Annual ONS Congress; April 26-30, 2023; San Antonio, Texas.

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor