Content » Vol 49, Issue 8

Short communication

Prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with dysphagia in cancer patients who require rehabilitation

Hidetaka Wakabayashi, Rimiko Takahashi, Naoko Watanabe, Hideyuki Oritsu, Yoshitaka Shimizu
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama City, 232-0024, Japan. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2253


Objective: To assess the prevalence of sarcopaenia and the association between sarcopaenia, activities of daily living, and dysphagia in cancer patients who require rehabilitation.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed in 83 consecutive cancer patients referred to the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. Skeletal muscle index was calculated as total psoas muscle area assessed via abdominal computed tomography divided by height squared. Sarcopaenia was diagnosed using the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia criteria. Activities of daily living were evaluated with the Barthel Index. Dysphagia was assessed with the 10-item Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10).
Results: Study participants were 50 males and 33 females (mean age 71, standard deviation 12 years). Sarcopaenia was observed in 66 (80%) patients. The median Barthel Index score was 55 (interquartile range: 25–75). Thirty-five (42%) patients were diagnosed as having dysphagia. Logistic regression analysis of dysphagia adjusted for sarcopaenia, Barthel Index score, age, and reason for hospitalization showed that sarcopaenia (odds ratio (OR) 3.616; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.926–14.114; p = 0.064) and Barthel Index score (OR 0.984; 95% CI 0.966–1.002; p = 0.073) did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusion: The prevalence of sarcopaenia in cancer patients who require rehabilitation is very high. The power of this study was too low to observe a significant association between sarcopaenia and dysphagia.

Lay Abstract

Sarcopenia is a progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Sarcopenia is associated with poor rehabilitation outcome. We studied the prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with dysphagia in cancer rehabilitation. 80% of cancer patients were diagnosed with sarcopenia. Sarcopenia was possibly associated with dysphagia; however, it was not statistically significant. Sarcopenia is very common in cancer patients. Therefore, sarcopenia should be assessed in all cancer patients. Rehabilitation nutrition for sarcopenia is useful for eliciting maximum function.


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