Malnutrition and muscle loss during treatment can reduce the survival rate for about a third of cancer patients.
It also increases the likelihood of severe side effects from medication and eats away at the quality of life.
Researchers at Deakin University say the solution could be as easy as pie.
The university’s Dr Nicole Kiss says all cancer patients should be screened for malnutrition and muscle loss when they’re diagnosed and throughout their treatment.
“People can find it difficult to eat because the type of cancer they have limits their ability to swallow food or the cancer treatments lead to loss of appetite,” said Dr Kiss.
“Metabolic changes caused by cancer can also affect the way they feel and how their body uses the nutrients they are eating.”
“Eating well and exercise are vital but this can be challenging due to fatigue, poor appetite and other side effects from treatment so specialised care is required to help people overcome these difficulties.”
Cancer related malnutrition is also costly to the economy.
Researchers say targeted treatment could save $800 000 for every 100,000 people diagnosed.
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