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Proactive nutritional support can make a big difference in patient outcomes

Presentation by Prof. David Currow at MASCC/ISOO Annual Meeting June 23-25 2016, Adelaide

Part 5- Nutrition Impact Symptoms & Oral Complications

Prof Currow discussed how oncologists can do much more to assess a patient’s nutritional status pre-treatment and to address issues before they become severe. He reviewed the need to be more proactive in providing nutritional support and in assessing nutrition status regularly through the course of treatment. It’s also important to distinguish between nutritional deficits and cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome, the latter of which cannot be addressed solely based on adequate nutrition. He characterized cachexia as a systemic manifestation of uncontrolled cancer.

Prof Currow reviewed strategies that will help to manage anorexia and cachexia in patients with advanced cancer, as these result in a decreased quality of life, lowered tolerance to chemotherapy, reduced physical functioning and shortened survival.  Of particular importance is involving specialist dieticians and in using medications to stimulate appetite to treat anorexia. Cachexia therapies are under investigation in several clinical trials. Prof Currow asked the audience which is the most effective treatment option for cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome. Mouth ulcers were reported by Isabella and the audience was asked which symptoms they would manage first. It was suggested that oncologists/teams should choose the medication that helps treat as many of the symptoms as possible. 

The symposium at MASCC 2016 was sponsored by Helsinn Healthcare SA.