The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the nutritional status of cancer patients receiving radiotherapy (RT) and to assess the possible contributions of nutritional support to patients with malnutrition.
Prospectively, 207 patients referred to our outpatient radiotherapy department were included. The patients were classified according to tumor site (head/neck, breast, lung, stomach, or colorectal). Nutritional status at the onset, at the end of RT, and 3 and 6 months after irradiation was evaluated with the subjective global assessment (SGA). All of the patients were supported with additional portions of meal or standard enteral feeding formula during and after the irradiation period as long as they were in the moderately or severely malnourished groups, respectively.
At the onset, malnutrition was present in 31% of all patients, and it increased to 43% at the end of RT. This difference predominated in head/neck cancer patients. Malnutrition ratios in head/neck cancer patients at the onset and after RT were 24% and 88%, respectively. By a 6-month follow-up, the ratio of patients with malnutrition decreased to 8%. Nutritional status of all groups was found to improve during the 6-month follow-up period, except for the breast cancer group, which included no patients with severe malnutrition at any time.
The results of the present study may be helpful in planning an appropriate nutritional support for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy according to the irradiation site.