[Nutritional risk evaluation and establishment of nutritional support in oncology patients according to the protocol of the Spanish Nutrition and Cancer Group]

M M Marín Caro, C Gómez Candela, R Castillo Rabaneda, T Lourenço Nogueira, M García Huerta, V Loria Kohen, M Villarino Sanz, P Zamora Auñón, L Luengo Pérez, P Robledo Sáenz, C López-Portabella, A Zarazaga Monzón, J Espinosa Rojas, Raquel Nogués Boqueras, L Rodríguez Suárez, S Celaya Pérez, J Pardo Masferrer
Nutrición Hospitalaria: Organo Oficial de la Sociedad Española de Nutrición Parenteral y Enteral 2008, 23 (5): 458-68

INTRODUCTION: Cancer and its oncological treatment cause symptoms which increase the patients risk to suffer from malnutrition. This affects the patients health status negatively by increasing the number of complications, reducing the tolerance to the oncology treatment and a decrease of the patients quality of life. Motivated by this, a group of health professionals from several spanish regions met with the backing of the Sociedad Española de Nutrición Básica y Aplicada (SENBA) to address strategies to improve the quality of nutritional intervention in cancer patients.

METHODS: This multidisciplinary group developed a protocol describing nutritional assessment and intervention in form of algorithms based on literature and personal experience. The patients are classified in a three step process: 1. type of their oncology treatment (curative or palliative); 2. nutritional risk of the antineoplastic therapy (low, medium or high risk) and 3. depending on the Subjective Global Assessment patient-generated (SGA-pg). The patients are classified as: A. patients with adequate nutritional state, B. patients with malnutrition or risk of malnutrition and C. patients suffering from severe malnutrition. During one year, the protocol has been used for 226 randomly chosen female and male patients older than 18 years. They were treated by the Medical and Radiotherapy Oncology outpatient clinic.

RESULTS: More than a half of the patients were suffering from malnutrition (64%) increasing up to 81% for patients undergoing palliative treatment. Most of them were treated curatively (83%) and received oncology treatment with moderate or high nutritional risk (69%). 68% of patients were affected by some feeding difficulty. The mean percentage of weight loss has been 6.64% +/- 0.87 (min 0%, max 33%). Albumin values of 32% of the patients were between 3 and 3.5 g/dl and negatively correlated with feeding difficulties (p = 0.001). The body mass index (BMI) has not found to be a significant parameter for detecting malnutrition (only in 10% of the patients, the value was below 19.9 kg/m2). But a significant linear tendency when compared to feeding problems could be shown, such that in patients with less feeding problems a higher BMI has been found (p = 0.001). More than a half of the patients required nutritional counselling to control symptoms which made food intake difficult. One third of the patients needed oral nutritional supplementation. Following the nutritional intervention the weight of about 60% of the patients could be maintained and of one sixth it could be increased.

CONCLUSION: The application of this protocol is useful, easy and could help detecting malnutrition in oncology patients. It provides the possibility to select those patients who can benefit from a specific nutritional intervention. If possible, the application of the protocol should be started immediatly after cancer is diagnosed. Nutritional support proves efficient for most of the patients.

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