A prospective evaluation of an interdisciplinary nutrition–rehabilitation program for patients with advanced cancer

B. Gagnon, J. Murphy, M. Eades, J. Lemoignan, M. Jelowicki, S. Carney, S. Amdouni, P. Di Dio, M. Chasen, N. MacDonald



Cancer can affect many dimensions of a patient’s life, and in turn, it should be targeted using a multimodal approach. We tested the extent to which an interdisciplinary nutrition–rehabilitation program can improve the well-being of patients with advanced cancer.


Between January 10, 2007, and September 29, 2010, 188 patients with advanced cancer enrolled in the 10–12-week program. Body weight, physical function, symptom severity, fatigue dimensions, distress level, coping ability, and overall quality of life were assessed at the start and end of the program.


Of the enrolled patients, 70% completed the program. Patients experienced strong improvements in the physical and activity dimensions of fatigue (effect sizes: 0.8–1.1). They also experienced moderate reductions in the severity of weakness, depression, nervousness, shortness of breath, and distress (effect sizes: 0.5–0.7), and moderate improvements in Six Minute Walk Test distance, maximal gait speed, coping ability, and quality of life (effect sizes: 0.5–0.7) Furthermore, 77% of patients either maintained or increased their body weight.


Interdisciplinary nutrition–rehabilitation can be advantageous for patients with advanced cancer and should be considered an integrated part of standard palliative care.


Neoplasms; rehabilitation; patient care team; symptom assessment; palliative care; quality of life

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.20.1612

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)