An Interdisciplinary Approach to Manage Cancer Cachexia

Clara Granda-Cameron

Debra DeMille

Mary Pat Lynch

Christine Huntzinger

Theresa Alcorn

Joan Levicoff

Carly Roop

David M. Mintzer

CJON 2010, 14(1), 72-80. DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.72-80

Cancer cachexia occurs in about 33% of newly diagnosed patients with cancer and may lead to delayed, missed, or decreased treatments. An interdisciplinary team approach to manage cancer cachexia may result in fewer missed treatments and improved outcomes. The palliative care program of an urban community cancer center developed an interdisciplinary clinic to treat cancer cachexia with the goal of using an interdisciplinary approach to improve symptom management, nutrition, function, and quality of life (QOL) for patients with cancer at high risk for malnutrition. The Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation Clinic team completes medical, nutritional, speech, swallowing, and physical therapy evaluations and then develops an individualized program directed to meet patients' needs and improve overall QOL. Patient outcomes are measured by symptom management and nutritional and functional parameters. Early intervention and aggressive symptom management may improve performance status and overall QOL. Results from this project will be used to expand this innovative program. The process of developing and implementing this clinic may help oncology nurses and other healthcare professionals to improve management of cancer cachexia and overall cancer care.

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