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04.03.2019 | Head & Neck | Ausgabe 5/2019 Open Access

European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology 5/2019

Sarcopenia is a prognostic factor for overall survival in elderly patients with head-and-neck cancer

European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology > Ausgabe 5/2019
N. Chargi, S. I. Bril, M. H. Emmelot-Vonk, R. de Bree
Wichtige Hinweise
A comment to this article is available online at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00405-019-05491-9.

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Sarcopenia is known as a geriatric syndrome associated with increased disability and decreased survival in elderly patients. In oncological patients, pretreatment low skeletal muscle mass (SMM), sometimes referred to as sarcopenia, is an emerging negative prognostic factor. Commonly, only SMM is assessed in cancer patients. Sarcopenia is defined as the combination of low SMM and low muscle function (MF). We investigated the relation between SMM, MF, sarcopenia (SMM and MF combined), and overall survival (OS) in a group of elderly patients with head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

Patients and methods

A retrospective study in elderly HNSCC patients treated between 2015 and 2018 was performed. The prognostic value of SMM and MF seperately, and sarcopenia was investigated.


Eighty-five patients were included of whom 48.2% had sarcopenia. The median OS was significantly worse for patients treated with curative intent with sarcopenia (12.07 months; IQR 3.64–21.82) compared to patients without sarcopenia (13.60 months; IQR 5.98-27.00) (HR 2.80; 95% CI 1.14–6.88; p = 0.03). SMM and MF seperately were not significant predictors of OS.


Sarcopenia is associated with impaired OS in elderly HNSCC patients. Sarcopenia, defined as the combination of low SMM and low MF, appears to be a better predictor of OS than low SMM or low MF separately.

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