Patients’ experience of nutritional care during cancer treatment


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Lesley Turner1,Arabella Hayter1,Fiona Davey1,Stephen Wootton2
1NIHR Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration, London, UK,2University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Abstract

Background

Good nutrition is integral to the prevention of cancer, as well as to the treatment of the disease and end of life care. The NIHR Cancer & Nutrition Collaboration was set up in 2014 to build and maintain a community of practice of researchers, clinicians and patients. The group presented to the Consumer Forum Dragon’s Den at the 2014 NCRI Conference, who suggested conducting a patient survey to gain insight into nutritional care during cancer treatment.

Method

A survey was conducted between January-February 2015 comprising 43 questions, to find out: 1) whether patients receive consistent, evidence-based advice; 2) what other nutritional support, advice and care patients would like to receive; and 3) the major gaps in service provision at diagnosis, during and after treatment. The survey was circulated via the Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice and the NCRI Consumer Forum. Results were analysed by the NIHR Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration.

Results

Of 96 responses, 72% were female and most participants were aged between 60-69 years (33%) and 50-59 years (29%). Most patients (n=69, 72%) reported receiving no nutritional advice from their healthcare team, either because they were not offered it (76%) or the patients did not know nutritional advice existed (10%). The most commonly reported problems were changes in taste and smell (70%), appetite loss (69%), nausea and vomiting (56%), being unsure of what to eat (56%) and the inability to be physically active (56%).

Conclusion

Many patients reported unsatisfactory experiences of nutritional care in relation to cancer. Gaps identified by patients include how to deal with side-effects of chemotherapy, weight changes and specific foods and diets that patients should or should not consume. There is a need for better evidence to allow more reliable and consistent nutritional and dietetic information for those living with and beyond cancer.