Methods for nutrition monitoring in cancer patients: a cognitive perspective

25 Jun 2012
C Lucchiari, M Masiero, G Pravettoni

In the present medical context, the evaluation and the monitoring of factors other than mere physical symptoms are an urgent demand.
In particular, the issue of quality of life (QoL) has become a relevant target in the treatment of cancer. However, the approach towards these aspects is not well standardized and the actual applications in a concrete setting are fragmented, left to personal or local initiative. If this is true for QoL in general, it is particularly relevant in the specific field of nutrition. Indeed, though the growing awareness of a correlation between chronic diseases and dietary habits has led to an increased interest in nutrition, both before and after cancer, very little is still known about the methods that measure this important variable of the QoL. Indeed, good nutrition may have a relevant impact on QoL, positively affecting both the physical and psychological well-being. Targeting this issue implies using proper instruments to both monitor and educate the patients. Hence, we argue that it is vital for oncologists to be able to individuate the best tool available in a specified context, so as to achieve an important goal with little effort, also adopting standardized strategies proved to be efficacious. In this framework, we briefly reviewed the tools more frequently reported in the scientific literature. We suggest that through a cognitive approach, it is possible to achieve important clinical targets, initially by understanding the patients’ needs, values, and psychosocial factors involved in nutritional behaviour and food-related decisions, in order to develop a personalized approach. Hence, this is the only way to support concrete actions for promoting healthier diets, thus preventing recurrences, monitoring chronic conditions, and supporting a good QoL.

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