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Saudi Med J. 2007 Mar;28(3):435-40.

Consequences of radiotherapy on nutritional status, dietary intake, serum zinc and copper levels in patients with gastrointestinal tract and head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Nutritional Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Golgasht St., Tabriz 5166614711, Iran.



Malnutrition occurs frequently in cancer patients and is multifactorial and can lead to negative outcomes. So we studied the effect of radiotherapy on nutritional status, weight changes, dietary intake, serum zinc and copper levels.


During the period of October to March 2005, 45 cancer patients who referred to the Radiotherapy Center, Imam Khomeini Hospital, Iran were recruited. We assessed the nutritional status of patients using Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA) questionnaire. Patients on the basis of location of radiotherapy classified to mediastinum, head and neck and pelvic groups. Changes in dietary intake (using 24-hour recall method) and body weight were evaluated prior to and during radiotherapy. At the onset and the end of radiotherapy, serum levels of zinc, copper and albumin were determined.


After treatment malnutrition increased significantly in all patients (p=0.01) and in head and neck (p=0.007) and pelvic groups (p=0.04). The decreased body weight of patients was significant in the head and neck (p=0.02), and pelvic groups (p=0.005). The mean daily energy and protein intake of head and neck and pelvic groups decreased during radiotherapy while energy intake increased significantly in mediastinum group (p=0.01). After treatment, significant decreases also observed in mean serum zinc, copper and albumin levels (p<0.05).


Because of the negative effect of radiotherapy on oral feeding, nutritional assessment and intervention should be an integral part of treatment. Also, it would be worthwhile studying the effect of zinc supplementation on dietary intake and nutritional status of patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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