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Patient-centered Weight Tracking As An Early Cancer Detection Strategy

Jonathan J. Hue, S. Markt, Goutham Rao, J. Winter
Published 2020 · Medicine

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Early detection is a valued strategy to decrease cancer mortality rates; however, new strategies are needed. Unintentional weight loss (UWL) is experienced by patients across the cancer spectrum, but often goes unnoticed. Patient-centered weight tracking may be a useful early detection marker. Fifty patients were enrolled in a prospective patient-centered weight tracking trial. Patients received a scale and monetary compensation to participate. A reminder to measure and record weight was texted to participants for 26 consecutive weeks. Most patients were black (86.0%) and female (68.0%). The median age was 47 years (range: 22-84 years). Many participants had Medicaid (42.0%) and the median household income by home zip code was $31,046. After 26 weeks, 90% of patients had recorded at least one weight. Among all patients, 73.7% of all possible weights were recorded and the median response rate per patient was 92.3% (24 of 26 weights). There was no difference in the response rates during the first and second halves of the study (77.7% vs. 69.7%, P = 0.53). The range of weight change over the study period was 16.1% loss to 25.0% gain, with 56% of patients maintaining stable weight. Seven patients (14.0%) lost more than 5% weight and 11 patients (22.0%) gained over 5%. Of the seven patients with weight loss, two (4.0% of the cohort) were determined to have UWL. Patient-centered weight tracking is feasible and inexpensive, and has potential as an early detector of UWL. Further studies are needed to apply this strategy to detect underlying malignancies.
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