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Women with gynecologic cancers who meet criteria for malnutrition before surgery face a higher risk for poor postoperative outcomes.

However, the value of preoperative malnutrition assessments depends on the definition of malnutrition used as well as the gynecologic cancer type, according to new findings published in Gynecologic Oncology.

For ovarian cancer, two definitions of malnutrition — European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 2 (ESPEN2) and low albumin — were associated with the highest number of adverse outcomes. But for uterine cancer, low albumin and American College of Surgeons (ACS) criteria were associated with the most adverse outcomes.

“By identifying the most relevant definitions of malnutrition for each gynecologic cancer, we hope to inform future patient-specific perioperative nutrition management and risk-based counseling,” lead author Laura Havrilesky, MD, doxepin purchase and colleagues with Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, write.

As many as 80% of patients with cancer experience malnutrition. Prior studies have shown that nutritional status impacts postoperative outcomes in gynecologic cancers, including mortality, but knowing which definitions of malnutrition are most appropriate for each cancer type remains unclear.  

Using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database, the researchers identified 76,290 patients undergoing surgery for uterine (68.8%), ovarian (23.3%), or cervical cancer (7.9%) between 2005 and 2019. The authors then classified patients using the following six criteria and definitions of malnutrition.

The ESPEN uses two definitions for malnutrition — ESPEN 1 and ESPEN 2. ESPEN 1 defines malnutrition as a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-20 for those under 70 or 18.5-22 for those 70 and older plus unintended weight loss of more than 10% over any period or more than 5% over 3 months. ESPEN 2 defines malnutrition as a BMI under 18.5.

The ACS defines malnutrition as more than 10% weight loss during the 6 months prior to surgery for those with a BMI in the normal or overweight range.

A definition for severe malnutrition is a BMI below 18.5 plus 10% weight loss, while that for mild malnutrition is a BMI of 18.5-20 for those under 70 and 18.5-22 for those 70 and older. And, finally, low albumin (< 3.5 g/dL) is a measure for malnutrition.

The authors found that 3.7% of the women met the definition for mild malnutrition, 0.1% for severe malnutrition, 0.2% for ESPEN 1, 1.1% for ESPEN 2, and 1.3% for ACS. For the 61.4% of women with a preoperative serum albumin recorded, 11% had an albumin level below 3.5 g/dL.

Patients who met any definition of malnutrition faced a higher risk of major complications regardless of cancer type. Overall, major complications occurred in 13.5% of cases, unplanned readmission in 5.5%, and repeat surgery in 1.7%.

For uterine cancer, malnutrition by the ACS definition and low albumin were associated with the highest number of adverse events. ACS was associated with an increased risk of readmission (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 2.74), reoperation (aRR, 3.61), major complications (aRR, 3.92), and minor complications (aRR, 2.03).

Similarly, for uterine cancer, low albumin was associated with an increased risk of readmission (aRR, 2.38), reoperation (aRR 2.56) as well as major (aRR, 3.74) and minor complications (aRR, 2.17).

For ovarian cancer, ESPEN 2 and low albumin were associated with the highest number of adverse outcomes. ESPEN 2 was associated with higher readmissions (aRR, 1.69), reoperations (aRR, 2.53), and major complications (aRR, 1.36). Similarly, low albumin was associated with a higher risk for readmission (aRR, 1.28), reoperation (aRR, 1.31), and major complications (aRR, 1.74). 

“Patients with ovarian cancer have been shown to be the most malnourished population among gynecologic malignancies, possibly due to their frequent diagnosis at stage III-IV,” the authors note.

For cervical cancer, low albumin was associated with an increased risk for readmissions (aRR, 1.48), repeat surgery (aRR, 2.25), longer length of stay (4 days), major complications (aRR, 2.59), and minor complications (aRR 1.52). 

In fact, “low albumin is associated with all major poor outcomes across all cancers and should be measured prior to surgery,” the authors note. Patients with low albumin had a 10-fold higher risk of death within 30 days of surgery compared with those with normal albumin and were more likely to have major and minor complications and longer hospital stays.

Overall, this study demonstrates how different definitions of malnutrition are associated with different postoperative outcomes for three gynecologic cancers.

“Nutritional markers such as BMI, weight loss, and albumin should be evaluated in all gynecologic cancer patients to accurately diagnose preoperative malnutrition,” the authors conclude.

The study had no specific funding. The authors reported no relevant disclosures.

Gynecol Cancer. Published online February 28, 2022. Source.

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