HealthDay News — Low nutritional assessment scores, poor mobility and advanced disease predict early death after chemotherapy initiation among elderly patients with cancer, study data indicate.

“We recommend that the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) and Timed Get up and Go (GUG) test, performed by a trained nurse, be maintained as part of routine pretreatment work-up in these patients to identify at-risk patients and to inform the decision-making process for chemotherapy,” Pierre Soubeyran, MD, PhD, of Bordeaux Segalen University in France, and colleagues reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To investigate factors that predict death within six months of chemotherapy initiation the researchers studied 348 elderly cancer patients with a median age of 77.45 years, who had not had previous cancer treatment.

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Risk for death was more than three times greater among patients with advanced disease (odds ratio=3.9), and more than two times greater among those with low scores on Mini Nutritional Assessment (OR=2.77), male gender (OR=2.40) and long Timed Get Up and Go scores, they found.

Participants were evaluated at baseline using the abbreviated comprehensive geriatric assessment, including the Mini-Mental State Exam, Timed Get Up and Go (GUG), Activities of Daily Living (ADL), Instrumental Activities in Daily Living (IADL), Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS15), and comorbidities index (Cumulative Index Rating Scale-Geriatric).

The proportion of patients with abnormal abbreviated comprehensive geriatric assessment score by test were as follows: 18.1% on ADL; 73% on the IADL; 24.1% on the GUG; 19% on the MMS; 44% on the GDS15 and 64.9% percent on the MNA.

Several researchers disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies that funded the study.

Soubeyran P et al. J Clin Oncol. 2012;doi:10.1200/JCO.2011.35.7442.