While present at the annual conference hosted by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), a team of investigators from Baxter International revealed some very concerning information – “only a small fraction of malnourished cancer patients receive clinical nutrition” and “early clinical nutrition in oncology could lead to significantly improved patient care”.
Under the title “Too little, too late. Nutrition in Oncology: An opportunity for better care”, researchers from several European countries, including France, German, and Italy noted that “approximately 40 percent of oncology patients in Europe are affected by malnutrition, and it is estimated that one out of four cancer patients die from malnutrition, rather than tumor progression”. Left unaddressed, this can lead to loss of skeletal muscles in patients which increases the risk of surgical complications, treatment toxicity, physical impairment and shorter survival.
Prof. Di Costanzo, Director of Medical Oncology, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, reported that “of the 69,000 metastatic cancer patients we studied, just 8.4 percent received clinical nutrition. Patients who received clinical nutrition showed significant improvements in survival compared to malnourished patients with metastasized gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancer; in addition, early clinical nutrition was associated with significant improvement in survival either in malnourished patients with metastasis and no metastasis”.
Professor Ingolf Schiefke from St. Georg Medical Center Leipzig offered his insight: “On average, we found that patients who received clinical nutrition have a trend of longer survival than those who didn’t. Our findings demonstrate that the sooner clinical Nutrition is administered, the greater likelihood the patient will benefit”.
The overall message that all hosts echoed was that clinical nutrition is a critical factor when it comes to patient prognosis. Immediate improvements need to be made, in order to guarantee the best possible standard of care and ensure successful outcomes.