Evaluation of a protocol to detect malnutrition and provide nutritional care for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 3;10(1):21186. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-78246-w.


Patients with cancer frequently experience malnutrition, which is associated with higher rates of morbidity and mortality. Therefore, the implementation of strategies for its early detection and for intervention should improve the evolution of these patients. Our study aim is to design and implement a protocol for outpatients starting chemotherapy, by means of which any malnutrition can be identified and treated at an early stage. Before starting chemotherapy for patients with cancer, a complete assessment was made of their nutritional status, using the Nutriscore screening tool. When nutritional risk was detected, an interventional protocol was applied. Of 234 patients included in the study group, 84 (36%) required an individualised nutritional approach: 27 (32.1%) presented high nutritional risk, 12 had a Nutriscore result ≥ 5 and 45 experienced weight loss during chemotherapy. Among this population, the mean weight loss (with respect to normal weight) on inclusion in the study was - 3.6% ± 8.2. By the end of the chemotherapy, the mean weight gain was 0% ± 7.3 (p < 0.001) and 71.0% of the patients had experienced weight gain or maintenance, with respect to the initial weight. More than a third of cancer patients who start chemotherapy are candidates for early nutritional intervention. This finding highlights the importance of early identification of patients at risk in order to improve the efficacy of nutritional interventions, regardless of the stage of the disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Malnutrition / diet therapy
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain


  • Antineoplastic Agents