Malnutrition and chemotherapy : implications for nursing practice

McCarthy, Alexandra L., Isenring, Elisabeth A., Yates, Patsy, Skerman, Helen, Walpole, Euan, Davidson , Wendy, & Thomson, Damien B (2013) Malnutrition and chemotherapy : implications for nursing practice. In International Council of Nurses 25th Quadrennial Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

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Background: Malnutrition before and during chemotherapy is associated with poor treatment outcomes. The risk of cancer-related malnutrition is exacerbated by common nutrition impact symptoms during chemotherapy, such as nausea, diarrhoea and mucositis.

Aim of presentation: To describe the prevalence of malnutrition/ malnutrition risk in two samples of patients treated in a quaternary-level chemotherapy unit.

Research design: Cross sectional survey.

Sample 1: Patients ≥ 65 years prior to chemotherapy treatment (n=175). Instrument: Nurse-administered Malnutrition Screening Tool to screen for malnutrition risk and body mass index (BMI).

Sample 2: Patients ≥ 18 years receiving chemotherapy (n=121). Instrument: Dietitian-administered Patient Generated Subjective Global Assessment to assess malnutrition, malnutrition risk and BMI.

Findings Sample 1: 93/175 (53%) of older patients were at risk of malnutrition prior to chemotherapy. 27 (15%) were underweight (BMI <21.9); 84 (48%) were overweight (BMI >27).

Findings Sample 2: 31/121 patients (26%) were malnourished; 12 (10%) had intake-limiting nausea or vomiting; 22 (20%) reported significant weight loss; and 20 (18%) required improved nutritional symptom management during treatment. 13 participants with malnutrition/nutrition impact symptoms (35%) had no dietitian contact; the majority of these participants were overweight.

Implications for nursing: Patients with, or at risk of, malnutrition before and during chemotherapy can be overlooked, particularly if they are overweight. Older patients seem particularly at risk. Nurses can easily and quickly identify risk with the regular use of the Malnutrition Screening Tool, and refer patients to expert dietetic support, to ensure optimal treatment outcomes.

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ID Code: 60762
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: cancer, ageing , malnutrition risk
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the authors.
Deposited On: 13 Jun 2013 04:23
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2013 18:41

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