Nutrition support for treating cancer-associated weight loss: an update

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Patients with cancer present high risk for involuntary body weight loss and reduced food intake, which, contributing to progressive tissue wasting and affecting the nutritional status, are often under-estimated in the clinical practice. In this article, we aimed at focusing on cancer-associated weight loss and investigating recent evidences on the indications of nutritional interventions to treat this condition.

Recent findings

During the last few years, increased emphasis has been addressed on the mechanisms underlying body weight loss in cancer that can be induced by either cancer metabolism and inflammation, either several side-effects of the anticancer treatments. This led to consider clinical parameters, such as BMI, body weight change and food intake, and their modification overtime, in predicting patient's overall survival. In this light, nutritional support has to be considered to maintain or restore nutritional status, improve tolerance to oncological therapies, and ameliorate physical performance and quality of life.

Summary

Increased awareness on weight loss in cancer patients and on cancer cachexia is needed to carry out a nutritional assessment at an early stage of cancer journey and to establish its management and nutritional support to obtain advantages in terms of treatment tolerance and clinical outcomes.

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