Older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) often experience nutritional challenges that impede their recovery, due to side effects from treatments for those malignancies, according to a poster presentation at the 48th Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress.

A research team reviewed 12 studies published between 2010 and 2022 that included patients ages 60 years and older with AML or MDS. Eight studies were retrospective, 2 were prospective cohorts, 1 prospective intervention, and 1 was not reported. Patients in 8 studies had AML, those in 3 studies had MDS, and 1 study reported a mixed patient sample. Most of the studies assessed nutrition with the Mini Nutritional Assessment or body mass index (BMI).

The researchers’ goal was to assess the effects of challenges with eating and impaired nutrition on the patients’ physical health, psychosocial health, and quality of life. 

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Chemotherapy often causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as fatigue, all of which take a toll on patients’ quality of life. They can also lead to other challenges.

Some of the challenges the researchers identified include malnutrition, sarcopenia, weight loss, impaired BMI, and impaired renal function. The researchers wrote that these challenges may be associated with increased prevalence of comorbidities, impairments to physical functioning, and possibly even impaired survival.

Findings include one-third of the patients with AML were found to be at risk for malnutrition at baseline. One-third of the patients with MDS had a 2% or greater weight loss before they were admitted for stem cell transplantation.

The researchers noted that gaps do exist in the literature. However, they hope their findings will inform screenings regarding nutrition, eating, and mealtime for older adults with AML and MDS.


Crowder V, Bankole AO, Holliday A, Fogle R, Bryant AL. Nutrition and eating in adults and older adults with acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes: a scoping review. Poster presentation at: 48th Annual ONS Congress; April 26-30, 2023; San Antonio, TX.