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Advances in Medical Sciences

The Journal of Medical University of Bialystok

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Open Access

Factors contributing to weight loss, nutrition-related concerns and advice received by adults undergoing cancer treatment

J Smith1 / B Malinauskas1 / K Garner1 / K Barber-Heidal1

Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, East Carolina University, Greenville, USA1

This content is open access.

Citation Information: Advances in Medical Sciences. Volume 53, Issue 2, Pages 198–204, ISSN (Online) 1898-4002, ISSN (Print) 1896-1126, DOI: 10.2478/v10039-008-0019-7, July 2008

Publication History

Published Online:

Factors contributing to weight loss, nutrition-related concerns and advice received by adults undergoing cancer treatment

Purpose: The opinions and perceptions of patients are crucial throughout the cancer treatment process, as treatment is more effective when patient concerns are addressed. The present study was designed to identify history of weight loss since initiation of cancer treatment, specific nutrition-related problems and concerns (including food aversions, factors contributing to poor food intake and perceived nutrition-related problems), nutrition advice received by cancer treatment patients, and relations between items studied and reported unintentional weight loss.

Material and Methods: A 23-item survey was completed by a convenience sample of 79 patients from treatment centers at a community hospital and oncologist office, of which 66 were included in the final analysis. Descriptive statistics included means, standard error, 95% confidence intervals, and frequency distributions. ANOVA and Pearson χ2 were used to evaluate differences in responses by treatment type and relations between items studied and reported unintentional weight loss. Twenty-seven (41%) of the 66 (27 males, 39 females) were receiving radiation, 20 (30%) chemotherapy, and 19 (29%) both.

Results: Unintentional weight loss occurred for 41% since initiation of treatment (13% deficit), 27% had food aversions, 52% reported factors contributing to poor food intake, 50% had nutrition-related problems since initiation of treatment, and 89% had received nutrition advice. The prevalence of unintentional weight loss was significantly greater among patients who reported having food aversions, factors that had contributed to poor food intake, or nutrition-related problems.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that adults commonly present with factors that contribute to poor food intake and perceive nutrition-related problems resulting from cancer treatment. Further, there is a greater prevalence of unintentional weight loss among those who report food aversions and perceive nutrition-related problems. The findings provide a framework that may aid healthcare providers in recognizing nutrition-related concerns and needs of cancer patients.

Keywords: side effects; nutrition status; dietary supplements; food aversions

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