Author(s): Chencharick JD, Mossman KL
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Abstract Nutrition-related complications of radiotherapy were evaluated in 74 head and neck cancer patients. Subjective changes of mouth dryness, taste, dysphagia, appetite, and food preferences were determined by questionnaire before and at weekly intervals during curative radiotherapy. Changes in body weight during therapy were also recorded. In addition, 24-hour dietary histories were taken from eight patients at the beginning and end of treatment. Results of the study indicate that patients were subjectively aware of nutritional problems prior to therapy and that therapy exacerbated these problems. As many as 25\% of the patients experienced oral complications such as taste loss and/or dry mouth prior to initiation of radiotherapy. By the end of radiotherapy, over 80\% of the patients were aware of oral and nutritional problems. Patients had an average weight loss of 5 kg prior to therapy; this loss of weight did not change during therapy. Diet histories of eight patients indicate significant caloric deficiencies early and late in radiotherapy. The oral and nutritional problems experienced by patients, even prior to therapy, support the idea that nutritional evaluation and maintenance are important not only during therapy, but prior to radiotherapy as well. Nutritional evaluation should be made a routine, integral part of therapy for every cancer patient.
This article was published in Cancer
and referenced in Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Radiation Therapy