Nutritional Support in Cancer patients: update of the Italian Intersociety Working Group practical recommendations

J Cancer. 2022 May 21;13(9):2705-2716. doi: 10.7150/jca.73130. eCollection 2022.


Malnutrition is a frequent problem in cancer patients, which leads to prolonged and repeated hospitalizations, increased treatment-related toxicity, reduced response to cancer treatment, impaired quality of life, a worse overall prognosis and the avoidable waste of health care resources. Despite being perceived as a limiting factor in oncologic treatments by both oncologists and patients, there is still a considerable gap between need and actual delivery of nutrition care, and attitudes still vary considerably among health care professionals. In the last 5 years, the Italian Intersociety Working Group for Nutritional Support in Cancer Patients (WG), has repeatedly revisited this issue and has concluded that some improvement in nutritional care in Italy has occurred, at least with regard to awareness and institutional activities. In the same period, new international guidelines for the management of malnutrition and cachexia have been released. Despite these valuable initiatives, effective structural strategies and concrete actions aimed at facing the challenging issues of nutritional care in oncology are still needed, requiring the active participation of scientific societies and health authorities. As a continuation of the WG's work, we have reviewed available data present in the literature from January 2016 to September 2021, together with the most recent guidelines issued by scientific societies and health authorities, thus providing an update of the 2016 WG practical recommendations, with suggestions for new areas/issues for possible improvement and implementation.

Keywords: cancer patients; malnutrition; nutritional care; nutritional support; practical recommendations.