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Bulletin du Cancer

Standards, Options and Recommendations for nutritional support in adult patients with advanced or terminal cancer Volume 88, issue 10, Octobre 2001

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Context. The "Standards, Options and Recommendations" (SOR) project, started in 1993, is a collaboration between the National Federation of Comprehensive Cancer Centres (FNCLCC), the 20 French Cancer Centers and specialists from French Public Universities, General Hospitals and Private Clinics. The main objective is the development of clinical practice guidelines to improve the quality of health care and outcome for cancer patients. The methodology is based on literature review and critical appraisal by a multidisciplinary group of experts, with feedback from specialists in cancer care delivery. Objectives. To develop clinical practice guidelines according to the definitions of the Standards, Options and Recommendations project for nutritional support in adult patients with advanced or terminal cancer. Methods. Data were identified by searching Medline®, web sites and using the personal reference lists of members of the expert groups. Once the guidelines were defined, the document was submitted for review to 95 independent reviewers. Results. The main recommendations for nutritional support in adult patients with advanced or terminal cancer are: 1) Palliative care has been defined in a consensual way and is governed by the law (standard). Nutritional support is a palliative care which aim is to maintain and restore the "well-being" of the patient (standard). 2) Digestive symptoms and nutritional troubles are frequently noted in patients with advanced or terminal cancer (standard, level of evidence B2). Karnofsky index (KPS) and performance status (PS) are functional scores with a prognostic value and have to be used (standard, level of evidence B2). 3) Anorexia has a bad predictive value in patients with advanced or terminal cancer (standard, level of evidence B2). 4) In France, patients with advanced or terminal cancer are referred to medical institutions, palliative care units or remained at home (standard). Patients need a multidisciplinary follow-up (standard). An active participation of patients and/or their family circle is very important and physicians have to pay attention for their opinions (standard). 5) Dietetic counseling can help patients to improve their alimentation and its drawbacks (standard). 6) Palliative nutritional care often includes medicinal treatments (standard). 7) Artificial nutrition can slow down nutritional degradation, avoid dehydration and improve quality of life in patients with advanced stage cancer (especially head and neck cancer for enteral nutrition and digestive occlusions for parenteral nutrition) and unable to eat adapted meals (standard, level of evidence C). 8) When life expectancy is below 3 months with a KPS ¾ 50% (or PS > 2), artificial nutrition is not recommended (recommendation, expert agreement). 9) The assessment of nutritional care in patients with advanced or terminal cancer has to include functional scores measurement, quality of life and satisfaction degree of the patient and/or their family (standard, expert agreement).