Nutritional support in cancer patients: A position paper from the Italian Society of Medical Oncology (AIOM) and the Italian Society of Artificial Nutrition and Metabolism (SINPE)

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Malnutrition is a frequent problem in cancer patients, which leads to prolonged hospitalization, a higher degree of treatment-related toxicity, reduced response to cancer treatment, impaired quality of life and a worse overall prognosis. The attitude towards this issue varies considerably and many malnourished patients receive inadequate nutritional support. We reviewed available data present in the literature, together with the guidelines issued by scientific societies and health authorities, on the nutritional management of patients with cancer, in order to make suitable and concise practical recommendations for appropriate nutritional support in this patient population. Evidence from the literature suggests that nutritional screening should be performed using validated tools (the Nutritional Risk Screening 2002 [NRS 2002], the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool [MUST], the Malnutrition Screening Tool [MST] and the Mini Nutritional Assessment [MNA]), both at diagnosis and at regular time points during the course of disease according to tumor type, stage and treatment. Patients at nutritional risk should be promptly referred for comprehensive nutritional assessment and support to clinical nutrition services or medical personnel with documented skills in clinical nutrition, specifically for cancer patients. Nutritional intervention should be actively managed and targeted for each patient; it should comprise personalized dietary counseling and/or artificial nutrition according to spontaneous food intake, tolerance and effectiveness. Nutritional support may be integrated into palliative care programs. "Alternative hypocaloric anti-cancer diets" (e.g. macrobiotic or vegan diets) should not be recommended as they may worsen nutritional status. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to further our knowledge of the nutritional support required in different care settings for cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-135.pdf
JournalJournal of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutritional support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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