Malnutrition in cancer has a very high prevalence: 15% to 40% of tumours associated with malnutrition at diagnosis and more than 80% when the disease is at an advanced stage.
There are several factors in cancer that affect nutritional status: decreased intake, increased demand and more nutrient loss.
The tumour secretes substances that increase inflammation and result in loss of appetite. Moreover, anorexia can appear as a side effect of the treatment. Dysphagia is another common symptom because of the location of the tumour (head and neck or oesophagus tumour,) secondary to mucositis treatment, after tumour surgery, etc., which can contribute to a worsening in nutritional status. This combination often translates into significant weight loss and malnutrition that worsens the prognosis of these patients, thereby decreasing their survival and treatment response.
For all these reasons, nutrition is the cornerstone of the cancer patient and it is essential to ensure correct nutritional status as an important part of the treatment.
During cancer hypercatabolism exists when both calorie and protein requirements are raised.
If it is not possible to fully meet these requirements through diet alone, supplementing with high calorie/high protein formulae is recommended.
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