A systematic review examining nutrition support interventions in patients with incurable cancer
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSupportive Care in Cancer. 2019, 1-13. 10.1007/s00520-019-04999-4
Purpose Recent guidelines by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) have advocated increased attention to nutritional support in all patients with cancer; however, little is known about the optimal type of nutritional intervention. The aim of this review was to assess the current evidence for nutrition support in patients with incurable cancer. Methods This review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Embase, MEDLINE and CINAHL were searched from 1990 to 2018. Evidence was appraised using a modified risk of bias table, based on guidance from the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Results Sixty studies were assessed of which twelve met the eligibility criteria. Eleven studies examined body composition, with six studies reporting improvements in weight. Six studies examined nutritional status with three studies reporting an improvement. Nine studies examined nutritional intake with six showing improvements including significant improvements in dietary and protein intake. Ten studies examined quality of life, with six studies reporting improvements following intervention. The most common nutritional interventions examined were nutrition counselling and dietary supplementation. Conclusions There is moderate quality evidence to support the need for increased attention to nutrition support in patients with incurable cancer; however, despite some statistically significant results being reported, the clinical effects of them were small. Key questions remain as to the optimal timing for these interventions to be implemented (e.g. cachexia stage, illness stage and timing with anticancer therapy) and the most appropriate endpoint measures.