Whitepaper: Benefits of Dairy Proteins in the Nutritional Support of Cancer Patients
Essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, and antioxidants support bodily and cellular functions. Essential nutrients are particularly important during illness or when undergoing treatment for chronic conditions.
Malnutrition is prevalent among cancer patients and can contribute to imbalances in body composition, including a depletion of muscle mass, which affects overall quality of life and activity levels. Malnutrition also increases the risk of a poor response to treatment, chemotherapy-associated toxicity, and post-operative complications. Patients are also at a higher risk of becoming malnourished as cancer progresses, which is often compounded by the effects of treatment.
However, malnutrition is often under-recognized and under-treated.1,2
Cancer patients undergoing treatment often suffer from treatment-related adverse events that may affect their diet and contribute to inadequate nutritional intake.
Overall, 67% of patients report at least one sensory alteration when undergoing cancer treatment:4
Careful food choices can support the well-being of patients with cancer. The latest European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) guidelines recommend starting nutritional screening for risk factors for malnutrition as early as possible and repeating regularly to allow for timely support.2
Eat small meals or nutritious snacks throughout the day.
Do not wait to feel hungry, Make it a priority to have a few bites of food every hour or so.
Include foods high in protein, such as milk, yoghurt, and eggs, with every meal/snack.
Be open to trying new foods.
For patients unable to meet their nutritional needs with dietary interventions (a balanced diet, energy- and protein-rich foods, and sufficient fluids), global nutrition societies including the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and ESPEN, recommend oral nutritional supplements (ONS) as a first step for managing malnutrition.1,2,8–10
ONS are convenient, ready-made solutions that contain balanced nutrients, calories, and proteins. For patients who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, they may help stabilise nutritional status2. ONS are associated with improved quality of life11 and survival rates.12, 13