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Objective: Malnutrition is the most common problem in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy. The radiation toxicities cause decreased food intake, with resultant severe weight loss and malnutrition. This study sought to determine whether an active nutrition improvement counseling program before and during concurrent chemoradiotherapy for HNC patients could increase the treatment completion rate without the interruptions caused by the side effects of chemoradiotherapy.
Methods: The findings of a prospective study of the effects of an active nutrition improvement program before and during concurrent chemoradiotherapy (study, n = 32) was compared with those of a retrospective chart review of HNC patients who had received definite or postoperative concurrent chemoradiotherapy (control, n = 80). The correlations between nutritional status and the number of treatment completions, number of tube feeding insertions during treatment, RTOG toxicity, nutritional status, and quality of life were obtained.
Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the concurrent chemoradiotherapy completion rates of both groups (p = 0.121; 95% CI, 0.226-1.188). The major cause of delayed or discontinued chemotherapy was oral mucositis. No significant differences were found in the tube feeding insertion rates and RTOG toxicities of both groups. However, the data showed a clinically significant difference in the concurrent chemoradiotherapy completion rate for the study group (56%), more than 15 percentage points higher than the control group’s rate (40%).
Conclusion: An active nutrition improvement program before and during concurrent chemoradiotherapy is clinically beneficial for HNC patients, providing a higher treatment completion rate than otherwise.
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