Recognizing Reduced Dietary Intake in Hospitalized Patients With Colorectal Cancer

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Malnutrition and weight loss in patients with colorectal cancer can lead to long hospitalization.
Malnutrition and weight loss in patients with colorectal cancer can lead to long hospitalization.

Multiple factors are associated with reduced dietary intake among hospitalized patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), a study published in Supportive Care in Cancer has shown.

A common challenge faced by patients with CRC is disease-related symptoms such as malnutrition and weight loss that often lead to prolonged hospitalization times, poor clinical/surgical outcomes, and reduced survival and tolerance for therapy.

For this study, researchers analyzed the results of 1131 hospitalized patients with CRC who completed the nutritionDay survey, a 1-day cross-sectional audit that assesses patient nutritional status, food intake, characteristics, disease profiles, and symptoms. Investigators studied multiple patient- and disease-related variables that could potentially affect dietary intake (eg, age, sex, cancer stage, therapy situation, therapy goals).

Of the 1131 study participants, more than half (55%) reported experiencing reduced dietary intake.

A univariate analysis revealed that female gender, advanced cancer stage, lower self-reported performance scores, longer duration of hospitalization, unintentional weight loss during the past 3 months, lower body mass index (BMI), therapy situation, palliative therapy, and higher number of drugs ingested daily were significantly associated with reduced dietary intake.

Symptoms such as pain, depression, weakness, lack of appetite, and tiredness were also associated with reduced intake.

The researchers concluded that “In patients at risk of reduced dietary intake, assessment of dietary intake may be indicated to evaluate whether nutritional intervention is needed. Management of related symptoms should be included to achieve an optimal nutritional intake.”


van der Werf A, Arthey K, Hiesmayr M, et al. The determinants of reduced dietary intake in hospitalized colorectal cancer patients [published online January 19, 2018]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4044-1

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