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Hospitalised older cancer patients at risk of malnutrition: Study

News Agencies | Updated on: 9 September 2019, 15:20 IST
older cancer patients

Older cancer patients who are hospitalised may have a higher risk of being malnourished and experience symptoms like no appetite and nausea, revealed a study.

The study was published in the journal 'CANCER.'

Many individuals with cancer experience malnutrition, which can negatively affect clinical outcomes during treatment.

To study the issue, Nivaldo de Pinho, of the National Cancer Institute Jose Alencar Gomes da Silva, and his colleagues evaluated the prevalence of malnutrition across different age groups in patients with cancer in Brazil.

They also examined symptoms that interfere with obtaining sufficient nutrition, or 'nutrition impact symptoms.'

The study included 4,783 patients with cancer who were hospitalized in November 2012 in public hospitals in Brazil. The average age of patients was 56.7 years.

The overall prevalence of malnutrition was 45 per cent, with a higher prevalence in individuals aged 65 years and older (55 per cent) and a lower prevalence in those aged 50 years and younger (36 per cent).

According to results from a questionnaire that assessed nourishment, patients with a high score--indicating a critical need to improve nutrition--had a higher prevalence of nutrition impact symptoms, with no appetite being the most prevalent (58.1 per cent), followed by nausea (38.3 per cent), dry mouth (37.1 per cent), and vomiting (26.0 per cent).

The results highlighted the need for assessments of malnutrition and underlying risk factors soon after patients with cancer are hospitalised, in order to take steps to ensure that patients have adequate nutrition.

"With these findings, we can indicate to professionals that intensive nutritional counselling from the age of 50 years and older are needed to prevent and treat symptoms of nutritional impact. This can improve caloric and protein intake and prevent malnutrition and weight loss so common to these patients," said Dr. de Pinho.


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First published: 9 September 2019, 15:20 IST