Updated evidence-based practice guidelines for the nutritional management of patients receiving radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy

Elisabeth Isenring*, Rachel Zabel, Melanie Bannister, Teresa Brown, Merran Findlay, Nicole Kiss, Jenelle Loeliger, Cara Johnstone, Belinda Camilleri, Wendy Davidson, Jan Hill, Judy Bauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


AimsThe aim of this paper was to update the evidence-based practice guidelines for the nutritional management of patients receiving radiation therapy and broaden the scope to include chemotherapy.

MethodsThe following databases were searched using a range of keywords: Cochrane Database, CENTRAL, MEDLINE (via Ebscohost), EMBASE, CINAHL (Ebscohost), Web of Science, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition and PubMed. Relevant papers (n = 47) were reviewed by at least two members of the steering committee and assigned a level of evidence and a quality rating.

ResultsThere were no new published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of nutrition intervention in radiation therapy. Most statements in the previous radiation therapy guidelines have strong evidence supporting nutrition intervention. There were 12 studies in chemotherapy including five RCTs. While these studies provided strong evidence that simple nutrition intervention improves nutritional outcomes such as dietary intake and weight, they did not find an improvement in quality of life or survival. Several RCTs found no benefits of nutrition support in patients undergoing chemotherapy. None of the RCTs in chemotherapy used medical nutrition therapy (MNT) as the intervention, but rather simple dietary advice and/or supplements.

ConclusionsThe evidence to support nutrition intervention in patients receiving radiation therapy remains strong. However, the benefits of nutrition intervention in chemotherapy are less clear. Further studies are required to evaluate the impact of MNT as opposed to simple dietary advice in chemotherapy patients. This update contributes to a move towards comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for the nutritional management of patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-324
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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