Psychosocial Support in Cancer Cachexia Syndrome: The Evidence for Supported Self-Management of Eating Problems during Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy Treatment

People receiving cancer treatment are at nutritional risk. Their eating problems can lead to malnutrition and weight loss. Involuntary weight loss is also a defining characteristic of tumor-induced cachexia. Weight loss is associated with poor tolerance of treatment, poor treatment outcomes, morbidity, and mortality. Support for self-management of nutritional risk may protect against malnutrition and be important in multimodal therapies to arrest the progression of cachexia. Nurses can help patients by supporting self-management of eating problems. This scoping review is about eating problems during cancer treatment. It considers patient experience and self-management of eating problems during cancer treatment for the proactive management of malnutrition and cachexia. It draws on a systematic search of Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library for publications about people with cancer who have eating problems during treatment. Limits were English language; January 2000 to December 2017; adults. The search found studies about eating problems in patients treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy for head-and-neck cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and ovarian cancer. Nutritional counseling can improve nutritional intake, quality of life, and weight. However, the patient perspective on self-management and how to motivate engagement in nutritional care is unexplored. There is a potential for reducing nutritional risk during cancer treatment using psychoeducation to support behavioral change, thus empower self-management of eating problems. Benefits are likely in subgroups of people receiving cancer treatment, such as those with head and neck, gastrointestinal, and lung cancers.

Asia-Pacific journal of oncology nursing. 0000 Jan [Epub]

Jane Hopkinson

School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.