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What Is The Goal of Nutrition Therapy In Cancer?

Optimal nutritional status is an important goal in the management of individuals diagnosed with cancer. Although nutrition therapy recommendations may vary throughout the continuum of care, maintenance of adequate intake is important. Therefore, a waiver from most dietary restrictions observed during religious holidays is granted for those undergoing active treatment. Individuals with cancer are encouraged to speak to their religious leaders regarding this matter before a holiday.

Whether patients are undergoing active therapy, recovering from cancer therapy, or in remission and striving to avoid cancer recurrence, the benefit of optimal caloric and nutrient intake is well documented.[1-3]

The goals of nutrition therapy are to accomplish the following:

  • Prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies.
  • Preserve lean body mass.
  • Help patients better tolerate treatments.
  • Minimize nutrition-related side effects and complications.
  • Maintain strength and energy.
  • Protect immune function, decreasing the risk of infection.
  • Aid in recovery and healing.
  • Maximize quality of life.

Patients with advanced cancer can receive nutritional support even when nutrition therapy can do little for weight gain.[4-5] Such support may help accomplish the following:

  • Lessen side effects.
  • Reduce risk of infection (if given externally).
  • Reduce asthenia.
  • Improve well-being.

In individuals with advanced cancer, the goal of nutrition therapy should not be weight gain or reversal of malnutrition, but rather comfort and symptom relief.(6)]

Nutrition continues to play an integral role for individuals whose cancer has been cured or who are in remission.[7 ] A healthy diet helps prevent or control comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Following a healthful nutrition program might help prevent another malignancy from developing.

References:

1. Bloch AS: Nutrition Management of the Cancer Patient. Rockville, Md: Aspen Publishers, 1990.

2. McCallum PD, Polisena CG, eds.: The Clinical Guide to Oncology Nutrition. Chicago, Ill: The American Dietetic Association, 2000.

3. Rivlin RS, Shils ME, Sherlock P: Nutrition and cancer. Am J Med 75 (5): 843-54, 1983. [PUBMED Abstract]

4. Zeman FJ: Nutrition and cancer. In: Zeman FJ: Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Macmillan Pub . Co, 1991, pp 571-98.

5. Albrecht JT, Canada TW: Cachexia and anorexia in malignancy. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 10 (4): 791-800, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]

6. American Cancer Society.: Nutrition for the Person with Cancer: A Guide for Patients and Families. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, Inc., 2000.

7. Brown J, Byers T, Thompson K, et al.: Nutrition during and after cancer treatment: a guide for informed choices by cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin 51 (3): 153-87; quiz 189-92, 2001 May-Jun. [PUBMED Abstract]

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