Tan S, et al. Clin Nutr 2020.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Guidelines on clinical nutrition recommend the use of appropriate nutritional support therapy for surgical cancer patients at risk of malnutrition both during hospital care and following discharge from the hospital. However, previous studies regarding nutritional interventions have mainly focused on patients during their hospital stay; there is limited evidence supporting the recommendation of nutritional interventions for post-discharge patients after cancer surgery, particularly those who underwent gastrointestinal cancer surgery and at high risk of malnutrition. To clearly address this issue, we designed and conducted two independent studies on two different groups of post-discharge patients at nutritional risk after gastrointestinal cancer surgery. The present study aimed to assess the impact of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) in post-discharge patients at nutritional risk following colorectal cancer surgery. Meanwhile, the sister study on the use of ONS in post-discharge patients following gastric cancer surgery will be reported separately.
METHODS: Between January 2017 and June 2019, post-discharge patients following colorectal cancer surgery in our institution were randomised to receive either dietary advice alone (control group) or dietary advice in combination with ONS (ONS group) for three months if they were at nutritional risk based on the tool of Nutritional Risk Screening 2002. The primary endpoints were nutritional outcomes and sarcopenia prevalence. The secondary endpoints were 90-day readmission rate, chemotherapy tolerance, and quality of life (QoL).
RESULTS: Of the 232 eligible patients, 212 (107 in the control group and 105 in the ONS group) completed the trial. Their data were then analyzed. The mean ONS intake was 410 mL every day. By the three-month intervention, the skeletal muscle index in the ONS group was significantly higher than that in the control group (39.75 ± 5.83 vs 38.01 ± 6.18 cm2/m2, P = 0.037), but no significant differences between the two groups were noted in weight, weight loss, body mass index, serum albumin and hemoglobin (P > 0.05). In addition, the ONS group had a significantly lower sarcopenia prevalence (28.6% vs 42.1%, P = 0.040). No significant difference between the two groups was found in the 90-day readmission rate (P > 0.05). The number of patients undergoing postoperative chemotherapy in the two groups was similar, but chemotherapy modifications, such as delay, dose reduction, or termination, were significantly reduced in the ONS group (21.2% vs 36.8%, P=0.024). However, ONS had no significant effect on QoL (P > 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: In post-discharge patients at nutritional risk following colorectal cancer surgery, the use of ONS may reduce skeletal muscle loss and sarcopenia prevalence, as well as improve chemotherapy tolerance, compared with dietary advice alone. These findings underline the importance of ONS treatment in post-discharge patients at nutritional risk following colorectal cancer surgery.