Key messages

  • Malnutrition is common in patients receiving cancer treatment and is associated with reduced treatment tolerance.
  • Cancer malnutrition has been identified as a significant supportive care need in the cancer population, often unrecognised and therefore untreated.
  • Early identification of nutritional needs through screening and intervention can lead to considerable benefits for patients, their carers and the health system overall.

Cancer malnutrition: feeding everyone from hospital to home

To successfully and effectively address malnutrition, a statewide approach beyond hospitals is required. The cancer malnutrition; feeding everyone from hospital to home project sought to address cancer malnutrition in a statewide platform that more broadly supports:

  • multidisciplinary nutrition care spanning acute, primary care and community settings
  • focusing on clinical governance processes and
  • education for clinicians working with people with cancer

Malnutrition in Victorian Cancer Services – Phase III

The phase III Malnutrition in Victorian Cancer Services project in 2016 and 2017 comprised five collaborative statewide projects focused on sustainable outcomes:

  • the malnutrition e-learning packages
  • the malnutrition governance toolkit
  • the cancer malnutrition point prevalence study (PPS)
  • exploring methods of identifying malnutrition among culturally diverse populations and;
  • exploring methods of identifying malnutrition in food service systems within health services

Addressing cancer malnutrition in Victoria – Phase II project 2013-14

The Phase II project aimed to help health services address cancer malnutrition locally and improve on the findings of the phase 1 project including promoting malnutrition screening among cancer patients.

At the statewide level two additional projects involved developing resources, the Malnutrition governance toolkit and an online education resource for health professionals on cancer malnutrition.

The online education resource is being hosted by EviQ (based in NSW), which is a national initiative that provides tools and resources for cancer professionals at the point of care.

Addressing cancer malnutrition in Victoria – Phase I project 2012

An initial project called Investigating Practices Relating to Malnutrition in Victorian Cancer Services was undertaken in 2012 and included a malnutrition prevalence study across 15 participating health services statewide.

The project also involved organisational and multidisciplinary clinician surveys to assess existing systems and practices that support nutritional care for cancer patients.

A report of findings was released and a resource for patients and their carers was also developed.

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