DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_93_23 ISSN: 2590-3233

The prevalence and correlates of comorbidities among patients with cancer attending a tertiary care cancer center in South India: An analytical cross-sectional study

Divya Sebastian, Jaison Joseph, Elezebeth Mathews
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology (nursing)
  • Drug Guides
  • Oncology


Comorbidities in patients with cancer can affect treatment, and should, therefore, be prioritized and managed.


Our primary aim was to assess the prevalence of comorbidities among patients with cancer. The secondary objective was to identify the association of comorbidities with various sociodemographic and clinical variables.

Materials and Methods:

This was a cross-sectional study conducted between December 2019 and March 2020 among patients with cancer, seeking treatment at Malabar Cancer Center, in Kannur District of northern Kerala in South India. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and comorbidities were assessed using the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The anthropometric measurements were recorded using a standardized instrument and protocol.


We enrolled 242 patients in this study. There were 148 (61.2%) female patients; 106 (43.8%) were aged between 41 and 50 years. Cancers of the head-and-neck and breast accounted for the majority of cases (23.1% each, n = 56), followed by the digestive system (18.6%, n = 45) and female reproductive system (11.2%, n = 27). The most common primary cancers in the head-and-neck, digestive, and female reproductive systems were oral, colorectal, and cervical, respectively. The prevalence of comorbidities among patients with cancer was 70.2% (n = 170). Common comorbidities were hypertension (n = 82; 33.9%), arthritis (n = 57; 23.6%), and diabetes (n = 53; 21.6%). After controlling for potential confounders, the factors noted to be independently associated with the presence of comorbidities were advanced age, family history of comorbidity, normal weight or underweight, and cancer treatment for more than 6 months' duration.


The high prevalence of comorbidities among patients with cancer suggests the need for an integrated system of care and management as the comorbidities affect the overall management of cancer treatment and care.

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