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Keywords:

  • chemotherapy;
  • evidence-based guidelines;
  • nutrition;
  • oncology;
  • radiation therapy;
  • radiotherapy

Abstract

Aims

The aim of this paper was to update the evidence-based practice guidelines for the nutritional management of patients receiving radiation therapy and broaden the scope to include chemotherapy.

Methods

The following databases were searched using a range of keywords: Cochrane Database, CENTRAL, MEDLINE (via Ebscohost), EMBASE, CINAHL (Ebscohost), Web of Science, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition and PubMed. Relevant papers (n = 47) were reviewed by at least two members of the steering committee and assigned a level of evidence and a quality rating.

Results

There were no new published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of nutrition intervention in radiation therapy. Most statements in the previous radiation therapy guidelines have strong evidence supporting nutrition intervention. There were 12 studies in chemotherapy including five RCTs. While these studies provided strong evidence that simple nutrition intervention improves nutritional outcomes such as dietary intake and weight, they did not find an improvement in quality of life or survival. Several RCTs found no benefits of nutrition support in patients undergoing chemotherapy. None of the RCTs in chemotherapy used medical nutrition therapy (MNT) as the intervention, but rather simple dietary advice and/or supplements.

Conclusions

The evidence to support nutrition intervention in patients receiving radiation therapy remains strong. However, the benefits of nutrition intervention in chemotherapy are less clear. Further studies are required to evaluate the impact of MNT as opposed to simple dietary advice in chemotherapy patients. This update contributes to a move towards comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for the nutritional management of patients with cancer.