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Br J Nurs. 2003 Jun 12-25;12(11):667-8, 670, 672-4.

Nursing management of nutrition in cancer and palliative care.

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  • 1University of Central England, Birmingham.


Malnutrition is prevalent in patients with cancer. This can have deleterious effects including reduced response to treatment, diminished quality of life, increased length of hospital stay and decreased survival. It is, therefore, imperative that thorough nutritional screening is carried out by nurses on patients' admission and during their hospital stay to detect those who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition in order to plan their nutritional care effectively. Cancer cachexia is the progressive weight loss and emaciation seen in cancer patients, particularly in advanced disease, which can have a devastating effect on the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of the patient's life. Therefore, the aims of nutritional care are identified depending on the stage of the patient's illness and recommendations made for nursing, pharmacological and nutritional intervention. These include nursing comfort strategies, the use of recommended pharmacological agents and dietary interventions such as experimenting with different foods, textures, portion sizes and nutritional supplements. The use of fish oil-enhanced nutritional supplements and artificial nutritional support is also discussed. Consideration is also given to the legal and ethical aspects of providing nutrition and nutritional support.

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