Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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Patients With Head/Neck Cancer Prefer Dietary Counseling Before Treatment, Study Finds

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Among patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer, there is a desire for dietary counseling, particularly from registered dietitian nutritionists, before undergoing treatment, according to findings presented in Nutrition Journal. Anna E. Arthur, PhD, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues found that the majority of patients in their study would be willing to receive dietary counseling—if it were free—highlighting the need for insurance related to oncology nutrition services.

“[Registered dietitian nutritionists] have the ability to successfully manage the various nutritional challenges of [head and neck cancer] patients; thus, they are uniquely poised to offer a promising means of managing and improving numerous cancer-related outcomes,” the authors concluded. “Future research should emphasize dietary intervention strategies to promote one-on-one telephone or other distance-based counseling, combined with face-to-face visits, according to survivor preference.”

In this study, the authors invited 24 patients who had survived head and neck cancer to participate in a 12-week randomized clinical dietary intervention trial at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Half of the patients were placed in a control group, which received weekly telephone counseling from a registered dietitian nutritionist that focused on general healthy eating for cancer survivors. The other half received the same weekly dietary counseling plus additional instructions to consume 2.5 and 3.5 cups of cruciferous and green leafy vegetables per week, respectively. After the trial was completed, participants completed a preferences survey and study evaluation.

At the end of the trial, 23 patients completed the surveys. Most patients preferred one-on-one telephone counseling from a registered dietitian nutritionist prior to treatment, and 96% of patients said the study program was “very good” to “excellent.”

“This study adds to the existing body of literature for dietary interventions among head and neck cancer survivors,” the authors added.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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