As the second-leading cause of death globally, cancer takes the lives of 10 million people every year.7 From leukemia to carcinomas, there are different types of cancers and a whole host of lifestyle-related and non-modifiable risk factors that impact its incidence. However, suitable strategies for cancer prevention, early detection and treatment could help save millions of lives. This World Cancer Day, we will explore the opportunity to better support patients with cancer by integrating medical nutrition with oncology therapies.
Patients with cancer face an elevated risk for malnutrition due to the impact of the disease as well as its treatment. In fact, worldwide studies show that between 20-80% of individuals with the condition suffer from malnutrition, with incidence rates varying according to factors that range from age to cancer stage and disease-modifying therapy methods.1,2,3,4,5,6 Disease-related malnutrition is typically characterized by reduced dietary intake, malabsorption of nutrients, increased nutrient losses or altered metabolic demands that can trigger tissue breakdown, significant weight loss, changes in body composition and declining physical and mental function.8
10-20% of deaths in patients with cancer are associated with malnutrition.1,9,10 By potentially increasing the toxicity of pharmaceutical drugs and accelerating drug catabolism, malnutrition can have a negative impact on the efficacy of oncology treatment and increase the risk of adverse symptoms.11,12 Even though disease-related malnutrition significantly impacts patient health and wellbeing, clinical outcomes, cost of care and quality of life,13,14,15 only around 30-60% of patients with cancer receive the nutritional support they need.2,16 All this suggests that optimal nutrition can play a pivotal role in supporting patients with cancer at various disease and treatment phases – and should be implemented as a key element of cancer care.
Encompassing a range of specialized nutritional therapy products from oral supplements to enteral and parenteral (intravenous) feeding modalities, medical nutrition can help patients to address disease-related nutritional deficiencies.17 This is especially crucial when they’re unable to meet their dietary requirements via normal food intake. Growing evidence suggests that tailored medical nutrition combined with drug therapies, such as chemotherapy and surgery, could be a game-changer for patients with cancer.18
Integrating medical nutrition into multimodal therapeutic care plans has numerous advantages. It can reverse the negative effects of malnutrition, promote healthy immune system function, maximize the efficacy of drug therapies, and improve patient outcomes, quality of life and prognosis – thereby reducing healthcare costs and the rate of hospital readmissions. One randomized controlled trial discovered that early nutritional intervention improved the quality of life of patients with various types of cancer and significantly increased the survival rates of patients when combined with anticancer treatment.19 Another meta-analysis demonstrated that targeted nutrition increased the body weight of patients receiving chemoradiotherapy.20
To effectively support patient health and support the efficacy of disease modifying therapies, pharmaceutical companies can consider combining their pharmacological drug offerings with specialized nutritional products designed to combat disease-related malnutrition.
Download our whitepaper to learn more about the advantages of pairing medical nutrition solutions with disease-modifying therapies and the wide range of opportunities to develop these complementary nutritional solutions to improve the lives of patients with cancer.
To read more about the potential of medical nutrition solutions and the role they can play in cancer care, download our whitepaper.
02 February 2023
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