The nutritional risks of children with cancer
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Paciarotti, I. (2013) The nutritional risks of children with cancer, no. 270.
Nutrition is a major concern in paediatric cancer, increasing the risk of co-morbidities, affecting tolerance of therapies and influencing survival. Despite this, very few studies have aimed to identify the nutritional risks of children treated for cancer in the western world. A unique retrospective study was therefore proposed to assess the degree of nutritional risk in paediatric cancer using the need for nutrition support (NS) as a proxy for high nutritional risk. Of 168 patients, seventy four (44%) required NS of whom 50 (67%) and 24 (33%) had solid and haematological malignancies. These findings underline the common need for NS in this childhood cancer cohort. A prospective study was consequently designed to assess the effect of cancer and its treatment on nutritional status, using commonly used assessment techniques. Measurements were taken regularly at six time points over a period of up to 18 months. 26 patients, 18 (69%) male and 8 (31%) female (median age 5.1; IQR 2.3, 7.9) volunteered for the study. At recruitment and during the first three months of treatment, those with solid tumour demonstrated nutritional deprivation, low BMI (median 25.5, IQR 5.5-60.5; median 18.0, IQR 7.5-54.2 respectively), low fat mass %(median 76.3, IQR 48.5-99.1; median 70.8, IQR 62.6-124.8 respectively), low energy intake (median kcal/d 1200, IQR 866-1970; median 1305 kcal/d, IQR 901-1488) and a high need for NS. In contrast, those with haematological cancer demonstrated an excess BMI (median 66.0, IQR 41.5-82.2; median 79.5; IQR 70- 94.2 respectively), high fat mass % (median 102.0, IQR 78.6- 153.0; median 129.4, IQR 96.5-202.6,respectively) and excessive energy intake (median kcal/d 2076; IQR 1453-2525, median kcal/d 1078, IQR 919-1206 respectively) These results suggest that children undergoing cancer therapy are at high risk of both undernutrition and obesity and they indicate apparent differences in nutritional risk according to diagnosis and treatment.