Sarcopenia, perioperative mortality and advanced ovarian cancer: a review

All types of ovarian cancers hold a high risk of morbidity and mortality for the patients. Currently, there are many efforts to assess ovarian cancer progression, to allow for the development of accurate treatment and management plans for preventing mortality in the long-term. A physical indicator of increased vulnerability is frailty. Frailty can lead to falls, hospitalisation and increased risk of death. Generally, frailty is closely associated with poor prognosis and shorter progression-free survival in many conditions, including ovarian cancer. However, diagnosing frailty is complex, due to a lack of a set definition and due to comorbidities appearing in older patients. Although this study draws useful conclusions, its limitation holds that some confounding factors could not be adjusted for, meaning further research is needed to understand the interplay between ovarian cancer and frailty.
This review by Can E et al. aimed to understand the prognostic value of frailty to predict complications and mortality in patients with ovarian cancer.

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Nutrition and dietary supplements: a review

A consensus is held that all tumour patients should be offered the opportunity for regular screenings for nutritional disorders, and their results should be monitored. This is because after cancer treatments, there is a high risk of metabolic syndrome. Healthy diets and regular exercise can help with this. Nutritional disorders are a huge issue for cancer patients because almost half of all advanced tumour patients experience eating and weight loss issues – this increases the threat of cachexia. Food intake should be kept normal (not through enteral tube or parenteral feeding) for as much as possible, with good nutrition reducing the risk of tumour recurrence. In palliative cases, hunger and thirst should be subjectively satisfied to alleviate distress.
This review by Arends J aimed to assess the role of nutrition in cancer patients, all the way to palliative cases.

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Sarcopenia and age in cancer patients: a review

Currently, medical treatment for cancer is personalised by looking at genetic and molecular factors of cancer cells. However, for characterising patients, factors such as age, weight, BMI, comorbidities, etc are used. Hence, there is no set, universal variable(s) to be used in managing cancer. It is possible that this is the reason that many anticancer drugs perform poorly clinically, due to this variability between patients. One of the factors that can be used is chronological age, which defines the patient’s accumulated damage to their system. Age is an accurate predictor of various outcomes, including the outcomes of anticancer drug therapies. For example, patients between the ages of 65-69 are often less likely to respond well to chemotherapy. A way to index age is sarcopenia, but due to the complex, varying body compositions associated with tumour growth, it is difficult to use sarcopenia consistently as an index for age in cancer management.
This review by Laviano A aimed to explore variables, such as sarcopenia and ageing, in their effects on cancer and anticancer drug successes.

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Malnutrition in paediatric oncology: a 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.

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Exercise, nutrition, or combined interventions: which is the most effective treatment for sarcopenia?

No pharmacologic intervention has yet been approved for the treatment of sarcopenia. Only exercise and nutritional support via increased protein intake have been shown to significantly improve this condition. As such, lifestyle interventions aiming to increase physical exercise and/or protein intake are recommended for the prevention, management, and treatment of sarcopenia.

The aim of this systematic review was to assess the intervention (exercise or nutrition alone, against a combination of both) best able to improve sarcopenia. This improvement was measured in older adults using the skeletal muscle index (SMI), handgrip, and gait speed.

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Current sarcopenia definitions and clinical outcomes: a need for homogeneity?

Three new definitions of sarcopenia have emerged in the past four years, proposed by the Sarcopenia Definition and Outcome Consortium (2020, SDOC), the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (2019, EWGSOP2) and the Asian Working Group on Sarcopenia (2019, AWGS2). No consensus on a unique definition of sarcopenia has yet been achieved, as the three new definitions proposed exhibit significant differences from each other. EWGSOP2’s definition of sarcopenia, for instance, characterises it as low muscle strength and mass, while the one developed by SDOC focuses on low muscle strength and gait speed instead.

The aim of this scoping review was to investigate all three recent sarcopenia definitions’ predictive validity for clinical outcomes.

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