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Volume 20, Number 4, 2015

Malnutrition and cachexia in patients with head and neck cancer treated with (chemo)radiotherapy

Mojca Gorenc, Nada Rotovnik Kozjek, Primož Strojan



To highlight the problems associated with nutrition that occur in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).


SCCHN is associated with weight loss before, during and after radiotherapy or concurrent chemoradiotherapy. Because of serious consequences of malnutrition and cachexia on treatment outcome, mortality, morbidity, and quality of life, it is important to identify SCCHN patients with increased risk for the development of malnutrition and cachexia.

Materials and methods

Critical review of the literature.


This review describes pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition and cancer cachexia. Treatment of malnutrition and cancer cachexia includes nutritional interventions and pharmacological therapy. Advantages and disadvantages of different nutritional interventions and their effect on the nutritional status, quality of life and specific oncological treatment are presented.


Nutritional management is an essential part of care of these patients, including early screening, assessment of nutritional status and appropriate intervention.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2015; 20(4) : 249-258

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