THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ONLY
Malnutrition is common amongst cancer patients with up to 80% of patients being malnourished during treatment1. Patients with cancer are at high risk of malnutrition with the prevalence varying depending upon cancer type. However, what remains consistent is that cancer patients regardless of cancer type, are at risk of becoming malnourished, both because of their illness and its treatment2.
Malnutrition resulting from reduced nutritional intake, metabolic changes, and/or increased nutritional losses could lead to weight loss and more specifically a loss of mass affecting physical function and treatment tolerance3.
Cancer is a complex disease1, with the identification and treatment of malnutrition in cancer being paramount, as 10-20% of deaths have been attributed to malnutrition rather than the malignancy itself4.
Identification of Malnutrition
Identification of malnutrition through screening is imperative, as recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)5. When it comes to cancer patients, it is essential to identify malnutrition through a validated tool such as the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) and to initiate a treatment plan accordingly5.
The Importance of Nutrition
Nutrition plays a crucial role in cancer care, and its management is vital as malnutrition has been associated with decreased survival6, extended hospital stays7, increased cost of hospitalisation7,8, increased treatment/chemo toxicity6, and lower quality of life8,9.
Implementing nutritional strategies to address inadequate nutritional intake is essential however it can be challenging, and patients often find it difficult to meet full nutritional requirements for energy protein and micronutrients through food alone due to the side effects of treatment and the cancer itself. Some of the side effects which can impact a patient’s nutritional status could include loss of appetite, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and pain.2 Therefore, the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) could help patients meet their nutritional requirements of energy and protein during the cancer journey.
ONS and Oncology
ONS are available in variety of formats and should be prescribed when nutritional requirements are not being met through food and drink alone10. Cancer patients with poor appetite may struggle with large volumes; therefore, a high protein, high energy, low volume ONS may be suitable. Smaller volume ONS are also associated with significantly better compliance of +90% compared to ‘standard’ ONS (typically 200ml or more)11. A wide variety of flavours is also associated with improved compliance11.
Fortisip Compact Protein* is a high protein, high energy, ready to drink ONS in a low volume (125ml), and available in 9 flavours, 3 of which have been specifically validated by oncology patients who experienced taste and smell alterations as a result of their treatment.
Effective Management in the Community
Managing malnutrition in oncology often involved many healthcare professionals. However, patients may present in the primary care setting at any time within their cancer journey, therefore, GPs are vital in supporting the identification and treatment of malnutrition in those patients. Utilising the malnutrition pathway can help identify if a patient is at risk of malnutrition. Click here to access the pathway.
Content provided by Nutricia Ltd.
✱Fortisip Compact Protein is a food for special medical purposes for the dietary management of disease related malnutrition and must be used under medical supervision.