Nutritional Intervention And The Need Of Diet Counselling In Oncology Patients


  • S.K.I.M.S, Food Science & Nutrition, Registered dietician (RD) Internship, Srinagar, India
  • S.K.I.M.S, Nutritionist (Neonatology & Pediatrics), Srinagar, India


Introduction: Nutrition and diet counselling have a key role in the management of cancer patients because there are strong evidences that the dietary factor is associated with cancer mortality. It has been noticed that cancer cachexia which is a specific form of cancer associated malnutrition occurs in (80% ) of the patients and is responsible for (20% ) of cancer related deaths. Cancer patients experience malnutrition, significant weight loss due to decreased food intake, anorexia, vom iting, diarrhoea, constipation, mucositis, dysphagia and pain due to cancer treatment related side effects thereby affecting overall quality of life. Dietary modification is necessary to reduce or eliminate these side effects. Nutritional intervention should be actively managed and provided for each patient throughout the course of treatment. AIM: The objective of this study is to create awareness about the importance of dietary counselling and provide timely nutritional intervention to cancer patients. Materials And Methods: A randomized study was carried out on sample size of 50 patients aged 18 years and above in the Medical Oncology Department. The data was collected through a questionnaire cum interview method. Anthropometric measurements, laboratory parameters and a malnutrition screening tool (MST) were used to identify patients at nutrition risk and to assess the nutritional status. RESULTS: Majority (98%) of the patients were not counselled about their diet and did not follow any specific dietary guidelines. The factors leading to weight loss during treatment were loss of appetite experienced by (56%), vomiting (18%), vomiting and loss of appetite (18%) and diarrhoea and malabsorption expressed by (4%) each. Therapy durations had an impact on the nutritional state and most of the patients found it difficult to cope up with their nutritional needs. All the patients wanted knowledge about healthy dietary habits and were of the opinion that lifestyle behaviours could improve the quality and quantity of life. After using the malnutrition screening tool (MST) it was found that majority i.e. (88% ) of the patients were at the risk of malnutrition. Conclusions: It was observed that the respondents were ignorant and lacked knowledge about the benefits of nutritional therapy during and post cancer treatment. Thus, it is very important to counsel these patients about consuming a healthful plant-based diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and promote the importance of weight maintenance. A malnutrition screening tool should also be made compulsory to identify patients at risk.


Nutritional Intervention, Diet Counselling, Oncology patients

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