South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Nutritional management of gastrointestinal malignancies

R Smalberger


The evidence connecting food and gastrointestinal cancers from epidemiological studies, case-control studies, and prospective observational studies, indicates that determining the independent effects of specific nutrients is extremely diffi cult, given the many potential environmental factors to consider. The nutritional management of a patient with gastrointestinal cancer fi rst begins with an appropriate nutritional assessment, seeing that several factors could affect the patient’s nutritional status. The most signifi cant dietary advice for cancer patients in general, is to consume a signifi cant amount of energy daily to maintain current body weight, as well as a liberal amount of protein. In cancer patients requiring gastrointestinal surgery, the benefi t of delaying surgery to attain improved nutritional status needs to be determined for improved outcomes. Postoperatively, severely malnourished cancer patients, and patients with an anticipated inadequate nutritional intake for seven days or longer, will benefi t from postoperative TEN, given within 48 hours after surgery. Regular monitoring and adjustments to nutritional prescriptions is imperative in order to improve the cancer patient’s nutritional status within the context of the prognosis.
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