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Malnutrition in paediatric oncology: a review


Article: Malnutrition screening and treatment in pediatric oncology: a scoping review

Out of all non-accidental deaths in the United States, paediatric cancer is the number one cause of death. Of children with cancer, 80% experience malnutrition during their treatment programmes. This statistic is dangerous, as malnutrition, as well as cachexia, worsen toxicity of treatment and the child’s quality of life. Yet, there are no standard definitions and nutritional interventions within clinical practice, with this varying between hospitals and clinicians on how to screen for and intervene with malnutrition. For example, some studies have explored Peptamen supplements for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, whilst others tried isocaloric and hypercaloric supplements. Overall, there is a significant lack of nutrition-based studies in paediatric oncology patients. Yet, overall, it has been seen that nutritional interventions in general are seen to increase the patient’s weight and decrease the risk of complications during treatment. Furthermore, incorporating nutritional screening into the patient’s management decreases their risk for malnutrition.

This review by Franke J et al. aimed to explore the current available malnutrition screening and intervention methods across different hospitals and studies for childhood cancer, and to underscore the lack of a standard management system.

Key learnings

Several different intervention and screening methods for malnutrition exist, and all demonstrate increased weight in patients as well as decreased complications. Further research is needed into finding out any age-specific and disease-specific treatments that may be more beneficial to specific patients. A standard method of nutritional care is also vital to improve cancer treatment for children.

Reviewed by: Z. Beketova

Authors: Franke J, Bishop C & Runco DV

Published in: BMC Nutr 2022

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