Nutrition outcomes and treatment toxicities in patients with head and neck cancer receiving helical intensity-modulated radiotherapy

Claire Blake, Rainbow Lai, Teresa Brown, Anita Pelecanos, Laura Moroney, Jennifer Helios, David Smith, Brett G.M. Hughes, Lizbeth Kenny, Benjamin Chua, Judith Bauer

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Background: Helical intensity-modulated radiotherapy (H-IMRT) provides excellent limitation of dose to tissues not requiring treatment, although acute toxicity still occurs. The present study aimed to determine how treatment-related acute toxicities affect nutrition outcomes in patients with head and neck cancer. Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in 194 patients undergoing curative intent H-IMRT with or without other treatment modalities. Weight outcomes (kg) and acute toxicity and dysphagia data were collected during treatment using Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Effects (CTCAE), version 4.0. Results: Significant weight loss (> 10%) was observed in 30% of high nutritional risk patients and 7% of low nutritional risk patients. Nausea, adjusted for baseline dysphagia, in high nutritional risk patients and nausea, dysphagia and pharyngeal mucositis in low nutritional risk patients were significant factors in explaining the percentage loss in baseline weight to treatment completion. Conclusions: Significant weight loss remains an issue during treatment, despite improvements in radiotherapy technology and high-level multidisciplinary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • head and neck cancer
  • helical tomotherapy
  • intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • nutrition
  • toxicity

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