What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition is characterised by loss of weight, loss of muscle, and loss of subcutaneous body fat. Cancer-related malnutrition can occur due to the type of cancer, treatment effects, and restrictive ‘cancer diets’. Cancer-related malnutrition is thought to affect 30-40% of people with cancer, yet it is under-recognized and undertreated. Research suggests 50% of people with cancer-related malnutrition are not receiving care from a dietitian. Part of the challenge is awareness, both among healthcare professionals and the general public.
Why Malnutrition Matters?
Malnutrition can have a big effect on your health, treatment, and recovery and should be prevented as malnutrition can:
- worsen treatment side effects
- reduce muscle mass and strength, making everyday tasks more difficult
- reduce immunity and increase risk of infection
- cause treatment delays and reduce its effectiveness
- increase time in hospital
What can be done to prevent or manage malnutrition?
- It is recommended people with cancer have regular malnutrition screening. This can be done by nurses or other staff within healthcare settings using a validated tool. You can also complete your own here: Malnutrition screening tool – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- Prompt referrals to a dietitian for people ‘at risk’ of or experiencing malnutrition
- Regular monitoring of weight (weekly). If you are losing weight without trying, please ask your nurse or health care provider for a referral to a dietitian or reach out to a dietitian directly
- Meet with a dietitian who will carry out a nutrition assessment and provide individualised medical nutrition therapy to help prevent or treat malnutrition
For more information please reach out to your friendly dietitian at Bloomhill Cancer Care.
References. Belinda Conway Dietician.
1. Allison SP. Malnutrition, disease, and outcome. Nutrition 2000; 16(7-8): 590-3.
2. Marshall KM, Loeliger J, Nolte L, Kelaart A, Kiss NK. Prevalence of malnutrition and impact on clinical outcomes in
cancer services: A comparison of two time points. Clinical Nutrition 2019; 38(2): 644-51.
3. Loeliger J, Kiss N. Phase II Malnutrition in Victorian Cancer Services: summary report. Melbourne: Department of
Health and Human Services, State Governerment of Victoria, 2015
Please contact our Nurses on 07 5445 5794 or email@example.com if you have any questions.
The information in this document is based on resources from the Cancer Council Queensland. All information provided by Bloomhill is based on research and best practice guidelines. Our model of care utilizes the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) domains of wellness along with available clinical evidence. Always consult your care team regarding matters that affect your health. This is a guide intended for information only.