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Review
, 9 Suppl 2, S51-63

The Causes and Consequences of Cancer-Associated Malnutrition

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Review

The Causes and Consequences of Cancer-Associated Malnutrition

Eric Van Cutsem et al. Eur J Oncol Nurs.

Abstract

Cancer-associated malnutrition can result from local effects of a tumour, the host response to the tumour and anticancer therapies. Although cancer patients often have reduced food intake (due to systemic effects of the disease, local tumour effects, psychological effects or adverse effects of treatment), alterations in nutrient metabolism and resting energy expenditure (REE) may also contribute to nutritional status. Several agents produced by the tumour directly, or systemically in response to the tumour, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines and hormones, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of malnutrition and cachexia. The consequences of malnutrition include impairment of immune functions, performance status, muscle function, and quality of life. In addition, responses to chemotherapy are decreased, chemotherapy-induced toxicity and complications are more frequent and severe, and survival times are shortened. Depression, fatigue and malaise also significantly impact on patient well-being. In addition, cancer-related malnutrition is associated with significant healthcare-related costs. Nutritional support, addressing the specific needs of this patient group, is required to help improve prognosis, and reduce the consequences of cancer-associated nutritional decline.

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