Causes for malnutrition in Cancer: Reduced food intake, malabsorption, metabolic disturbances and abnormal inflammatory responses may all contribute to the development of under-nutrition in patients with cancer.3
Consequences of malnutrition in Cancer: Malnutrition in cancer is associated with decreased performance status, reduced quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality, shortened survival and a poorer response to cancer treatment.3 Patients with cancer who have lost weight have a shorter overall survival than those without weight loss.4
The goal of nutritional treatment with cancer is o improve function and outcome by:5
Much research exists to support the role of enteral nutrition in the treatment of malnutrition and weight loss in oncology patients.
ESPEN guidelines on nutrition in cancer state that enteral nutrition in the form of oral nutritional supplements or tube feeding should be started if malnutrition already exists or if food intake is markedly reduced for more than 7-10 days.5
As a guideline, malnutrition exists if a patient has:
It is difficult to give exact guidance on which ONS is most suitable for cancer patients, as requirements will be determined by a range of factors including:
The differences between the nutrition requirements of a preterm infant and the nutrition provided in breastmilk highlight the requirement for additional supplementation in the form of either a human milk fortifier and/or a protein supplement.