On the other hand, this range reveals a crucial need to integrate nutrition in cancer care plans more systematically – not only in terms of who can support patients with nutrition advice, but also when and how.
At the moment, nutrition is an often overlooked matter in cancer care, leading to many patients becoming malnourished during the course of their cancer journey9. While both the disease and the treatment are at cause of this malnutrition, as they affect the patients’ ability to eat and drink, there are also other reasons why it often goes undetected. Malnutrition screening is not systematically conducted in clinical practice, while there may also be lack of time to address nutrition as part of the multiple cancer care-related topics.
Besides, clinical decision making often relies on patient-reported symptoms (e.g., loss of appetite) or observations (e.g., weight loss), reinforcing the need for patient voice inclusion in clinical settings.
As such, as a patient, or a carer, there are signs to look out for that can help detect and address malnutrition in time, supporting patient outcomes. These signs may include eating challenges like appetite loss and nausea, unexpected weight loss, and loss of strength.
For everyone involved in cancer care, patients, carers and healthcare professionals alike, it’s key to feel empowered in addressing nutrition maters and helping improve quality of life and treatment outcomes in the cancer journey. Let’s close the nutritional care gap by starting the conversation on eating and drinking during cancer.