DOI: 10.1002/hed.27585 ISSN: 1043-3074

Risk factors for sarcopenia in patients with head and neck cancer

Chen Liu, Ling Cheng, Wenfeng Ye, Lizhu Lin
  • Otorhinolaryngology



Sarcopenia is a common condition among patients with cancer. To better understand the prevalence of sarcopenia in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC), we analysed the risk factors of sarcopenia and developed a theoretical foundation for further development of sarcopenia prevention and treatment strategies.


Six hundred and seventeen patients with HNC were recruited for this cross‐sectional observational study, and the data were analyzed using logistic regression analyses. The bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) was used to measure skeletal muscle mass, and sarcopenia was diagnosed according to the 2019 diagnostic criteria of the Asian Sarcopenia Working Group (AWGS).


Among the 617 patients enrolled in the study, 115 (18.6%) had sarcopenia. The prevalence of sarcopenia was 29.1% in males and 8% in females. In the multivariate analysis, older age (OR = 12.266, 95% CI: 3.864–38.934, p < 0.01), body fat (OR = 1.775, 95% CI: 1.511–2.084, p < 0.01), and sex (OR = 138.659, 95% CI: 42.382–453.642, p < 0.01) were independent risk factors for sarcopenia. Body mass index (BMI) (OR = 0.137, 95% CI: 0.09–0.21, p < 0.01), and total body water/fat free mass (TBW/FFM) (OR = 0.122, 95% CI: 0.031–0.474, p < 0.01) were protective factors for sarcopenia; we observed that sarcopenia decreased with increasing BMI and TBW/FFM.


Male sex, advanced age, and excess body fat were identified as risk factors for sarcopenia in patients with HNC, whereas a higher BMI and TBW/FFM acted as protective factors against sarcopenia in these patients.

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