One of the most asked questions from cancer patients and oncology practitioners is how to achieve an adequate nutrition for patients with cancer whether they are on chemotherapy, radiation or after that.
Unfortunately, there are not many health care practitioners who have a clear guidelines and knowledge about the best types of nutrients and how to administer them to cancer patients.
Oncology research revealed that Nutritional Problems happen to Patients with Cancer due to many factors such as
· tumour location so patients with Gastric (Stomach) Cancer or Esophageal Cancer have mechanical and functional problems that prevent them from swallowing or digesting the food properly.
· Tumour type: tumour with a high metabolic activity such as Leukemia and Lymphoma can cause marked nutritional problems and weight loss.
· Psychological factors such as anxiety and depression due to fear from the cancer diagnosis and uncertainty about prognosis and cure.
· Nausea and Vomiting related to the Chemotherapy and Radiation effects.
· Lack of proper nutritional assessment from the Health Care Team and lack of clear guidelines for improving the Nutrition of Cancer Patients in most Oncology Centers.
· Insufficient number of dietitians and Nutritionists in most Oncology Hospitals.
- How to assess Nutritional Status for Cancer Patients?
The Oncologist or Oncology Practitioner should be able to assess the Nutritional Needs of their patients. The assessment includes but not limited to the following means:
· Assessment of the baseline weight, height, Body Mass Index (BMI), Body water (Hydration status), body fat and muscle percentage.
· Daily dietary intake including water and snacks.
· Blood work that detects the levels of different essential nutrients and estimates if they need replacement or no.
How to treat Nutritional Deficiency in Oncology Patients?
After proper assessment of the Nutritional Status of Cancer patients, the Oncologist should determine how to replace the essential nutrients needed by them and this can be accomplished by
· Oral nutrition: advising patients to eat and drink certain foods that maintain their health normal in case they can adequately eat or drink their foods.
· Intravenous Nutrition (IVN): This is indicated if the patient either cannot take the adequate amount of nutrients or fluids recommended by his dietician, or unable to eat or drink at all. This IV Nutrition (Sometimes called PN Or Parenteral Nutrition) can be achieved by many means such as:
- Peripheral IV insertion: under the skin insertion of an angio catheter.
- PICC Line: usually inserted for chemotherapy in one of the arm’s veins.
- Port A Cath: a Titanium and Silicone button shaped devise inserted surgically under the collar bone (Clavicle) to aid Intravenous access for Nutrients and Fluids usually inserted for Chemotherapy as well.
If you need more information about nutrition and cancer you can read this article https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2530018018300490?via%3Dihub
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