What Is the Goal of Nutrition Therapy in Cancer or other chronic debilitating conditions?
Optimal nutritional status is an important goal in the management of individuals diagnosed with cancer. Although nutrition therapy recommendations may vary throughout the continuum of care, maintenance of adequate intake is important.
Whether patients are undergoing active therapy for cancer or another condition, recovering from therapy, or in remission and striving to avoid recurrence, the benefit of optimal caloric and nutrient intake is well documented. 1,3
The goals of nutrition therapy are to accomplish the following:
- Prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies.
- Preserve lean body mass.
- Help patients better tolerate treatments.
- Minimize nutrition-related side effects and complications.
- Maintain strength and energy.
- Protect immune function, decreasing the risk of infection.
- Aid in recovery and healing.
- Maximize quality of life.
Patients with advanced cancer or other conditions can receive nutritional support even when nutrition therapy can do little for weight gain.[4-5] Such support may help accomplish the following:
- Lessen side effects.
- Reduce risk of infection (if given externally).
- Reduce asthenia.
- Improve well-being.
For such individuals, the goal of nutrition therapy should not be weight gain or reversal of malnutrition, but rather comfort and symptom relief.6
Nutrition continues to play an integral role for individuals whose cancer has been cured or who are in remission.7 A healthy diet also helps prevent or control comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Following a healthful nutrition program might help prevent another malignancy or conditions from developing.