A guide for lung cancer nutritional care, including a lung cancer nutritional care pathway, has been published to assist the management of patients with lung cancer.
The document is intended to assist clinicians with assessing and monitoring the nutritional status of patients with lung cancer, in order to improve outcomes and patient experience.
Titled A Practical Guide for Lung Cancer Nutritional Care (see top-right), it has been developed by a multi-professional team and is endorsed by the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses, the Royal College of Nursing and the National Nurses Nutrition Group.
The document includes a pathway to help healthcare professionals optimise the nutritional status of patients with lung cancer using clinical experience and the evidence base, alongside accepted best practice.
“This national nutritional management pathway… aims to ensure that lung cancer nurses and other members of the multidisciplinary team have a consistent approach”
To support the guide, a nutrition starter information pack for patients, has also been developed in conjunction with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. It includes three leaflets covering practical tips for eating, using supplements and managing symptoms.
The guide notes that the impact of treatment together with unintentional weight loss, pain, changes in appetite and breathlessness, along with the potential side effects of cancer treatment, all add to the decline in the nutritional status of patients with lung cancer.
The consequences of malnutrition in cancer patients include the impairment of immune function, performance status, muscle function and associated debilitating morbidities, such as depression and fatigue, and ultimately reduced survival.
The guidance states that early screening can help to identify malnutrition risk and any problems that may affect how well the patient can deal with the impact of the subsequent cancer treatment.
The mainstay of nutritional interventions can include dietary advice, oral nutritional supplements, and in some instances enteral tube feeding, it adds.
The document includes an overview of the clinical consequences of malnutrition in cancer, information on the importance of nutritional screening and support for lung cancer patients, and guidance on offering dietary advice and oral nutritional supplements to patients with lung cancer.
It covers patients at low, medium and high risk of malnutrition, as well as those requiring active supportive care.
Diana Borthwick, clinical nurse specialist and chair of the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses, was involved in the development of the guidance.
“This national nutritional management pathway for patients with lung cancer aims to ensure that lung cancer nurses and other members of the multidisciplinary team have a consistent approach to the nutritional assessment and management of patients,” she said.
“The supporting patient materials have been developed to give patients and their carers simple hints and tips to deal with common symptoms and to assist them in meeting their nutritional needs,” she added.