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Can a simple handshake predict cancer survival rates?

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
New acquaintances are often judged by their handshake. Research has now recognized the simple squeeze as an important diagnostic tool in assessing strength and quality of life among critical care patients. The test was simple: 203 patients fighting advanced-stage cancers squeezed a device known as a dynamometer with their dominant hand. The instrument then measured peak grip strength and information gleaned from that could predict, to some degree, survival rates among cancer patients.

New acquaintances are often judged by their handshake. Research has now recognized the simple squeeze as an important diagnostic tool in assessing strength and quality of life among critical care patients.

In a study published in the journal, Support Care Cancer, Concordia professor Robert Kilgour and his colleagues at the McGill Nutrition and Performance Laboratory confirmed a link between handgrip strength and survival rates.

The test was simple: 203 patients fighting advanced-stage cancers squeezed a device known as a dynamometer with their dominant hand. The instrument then measured peak grip strength.

Because it requires minimal equipment, this method of evaluation is both portable and practical, says Kilgour: "This measure is one of several to categorize patients according to the severity of their disease. It can help determine interventions they may need, whether clinical, nutritional or functional."

While other diagnostic tests rely on a patient's self-reporting or examine related factors such as decreased body weight,the handgrip test directly focuses on body strength.

Its precision allows doctors to better assess a patient's decline.

Clinicians typically classify patients by percentiles; those in the bottom 10th percentile are in the most serious condition, while those in the 25th are somewhat stronger. In most cases, slowing a patient's decline and maintaining a decent quality of life can be a significant accomplishment.

Kilgour and his colleagues believe the grip test may help all categories of patients, especially those in the 25th percentile. At this stage, even modest interventions, like starting exercise or a diet change, can yield results, boosting both the physical and mental health of patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. D. Kilgour, A. Vigano, B. Trutschnigg, E. Lucar, M. Borod, J. A. Morais. Handgrip strength predicts survival and is associated with markers of clinical and functional outcomes in advanced cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 2013; 21 (12): 3261 DOI: 10.1007/s00520-013-1894-4

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Can a simple handshake predict cancer survival rates?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125344.htm>.
Concordia University. (2014, February 26). Can a simple handshake predict cancer survival rates?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125344.htm
Concordia University. "Can a simple handshake predict cancer survival rates?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125344.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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