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Literature Review Targets Nutritional Concerns for Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rosemont, Ill., Nov. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Some 35% to 60% of all patients with head and neck cancers are malnourished at the time of diagnosis. This is the result of intake obstruction caused by the tumor and/or the lack of appetite and loss of muscle mass and fat stores associated with their cancer. This is according to “Nutritional Considerations for Head and Neck Cancer Patients: A Review of the Literature,”a contemporary review of the nutritional aspects of care for patients with head and neck cancers that appears in the November 2013 issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Authors from the Boston University School of Medicine and the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine conducted a literature search of several available databases from 1990 through 2012, on the clinical effectiveness of nutritional support, treatment modalities, and methods of delivery in patients with head and neck cancers. The 248 studies analyzed focused on the etiology and assessment of malnutrition, as well as current nutritional treatments for cancer-induced anorexia and body weakness. These included 2 randomized, controlled clinical trials; 10 meta-analyses; 210 review studies; and 26 systematic reviews.

In summarizing these studies, the authors conclude that a nutritional assessment must be part of any comprehensive treatment plan for patients with head and neck cancers. Furthermore, they conclude that nutritional interventions should be initiated before cancer treatment begins and that these interventions need to be ongoing after completion of treatment to ensure optimal patient outcomes. In addition, the authors note that more research is needed to quantify the clinical effects of adjuvant therapies in the form of alternative medical interventions, such as immune-enhancing nutrients and anticytokine pharmaceutical agents.

Read the complete study findings at J Oral Maxillofac Surg; 71:1853-1860, 2013.

SOURCE: American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons

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