Anorexia is a common symptom in patients with cancer, which can lead to poor tolerance of treatment and can contribute to cachexia in extreme cases. … Currently, there are no instruments that measure common concerns specifically associated with anorexia and cachexia in children with cancer.
By some estimates, nearly one-third of cancer deaths can be attributed to a wasting syndrome called cachexia that can be devastating for patients and their families.
Characterised by a dramatic loss of skeletal muscle mass and often accompanied by substantial weight loss, cachexia (pronounced kuh-KEK-see-uh) is a form of metabolic mutiny in which the body overzealously breaks down skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, which stores fat. Patients suffering from cachexia are often so frail and weak that walking can be a Herculean task.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in the lives of Children with Cancer, yet there are millions of Children with Cancer suffering from the wasting syndrome called cachexia.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines cachexia as the loss of body weight and muscle mass in a patient, as well as weakness. This debilitating condition can severely affect the health and quality of life of Children with Cancer, as well as create hardships for their families.
New research presented at the 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium shows that patients with advanced cancer who have cachexia have a greater need for nutritional support.
Researchers conducted the study to examine the relationship between the need for nutritional support and cancer cachexia, specific needs, perceptions and beliefs. They gathered information via a questionnaire from 117 patients in outpatient service, palliative care teams and palliative care units.
The researchers determined that there was a significant difference in need for nutritional support.
Regarding perceptions, nearly half of patients (48.6%) surveyed felt that the best time to receive nutritional support was, “when anorexia, weight loss and muscle weakness become apparent.” And the best medical staff, according to 67.3% of patients, to provide that support is a “nutritional support team.”
The study listed the top three beliefs of nutritional treatments: “I do not wish to receive tube feeding” (78.6%), “parenteral nutrition and hydration are essential” (60.7% ) and “parenteral hydration is essential” (59.6%).
“Patients with advanced cancer wished to receive nutritional support from medical staff with specific knowledge when they become unable to take sufficient nourishment orally and the negative impact of cachexia becomes apparent,” noted the authors.
Children with Cancer
According to a study published in the Journal of Cellular Immunotherapy in March 2017, malnutrition is common in Children with Cancer, with estimates of prevalence ranging up to 50% depending on cancer site, stage and metastatic status of the disease as well as the toxicity of various cancer therapies.
Adequate nutrition during cancer therapy plays a significant role in several clinical outcomes, such as susceptibility to infections, wound healing, tolerance and response to chemotherapy, toxicity biochemical imbalances, quality of life, and cost of care.
Long-term childhood cancer survivors are at higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, cardiac complications, or peak bone mass reduction due to treatment-related side effects.
But, the importance of nutrition in children with malignancies is still an undervalued topic within paediatric oncology.
Malnutrition in children with cancer should not be accepted at any stage of the disease or tolerated as a predictable process.
Nutritional support is an integral part of the treatment in Children with Cancer and helps them deal with treatment and improve their overall quality of life. It is vital that the effect on nutritional status is checked to ensure optimum support is being given and a multidisciplinary team approach is the best way to ensure this.
One of the main objectives in this field is the early detection of children with pre-existing malnutrition and a high risk of substrate reduction before cancer therapies. In short, it is essential to establish individualised and patient-centred nutrition therapy for a child with cancer, focusing on proactive, ongoing assessments with early and continuing preventive measures in place.