Research to improve outcomes for cancer sufferers

Two IPAN researchers share how they are working to improve the quality of life for people with cancer for World Cancer Day (4 Feb 2020).

Two IPAN researchers share how they are working to improve the quality of life for people with cancer for World Cancer Day (4 Feb 2020).

IPAN’s Dr Brenton Baguley and Dr Nicole Kiss

Dr Nicole Kiss – Predictors of muscle loss in cancer treatment patients

Muscle loss is a serious issue for people undergoing treatment for lung cancer, potentially affecting their survival rates and quality of life.

Dr Kiss, Clinical Research Fellow, Victorian Cancer Agency Nursing and Allied Health is leading an observational study looking at predictors of muscle loss in people being treated for lung cancer to identify those most at risk.

She is currently recruiting participants for the study at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

About 50 per cent of people undergoing lengthy and demanding chemo-radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer suffer substantial muscle loss; and up to 60 per cent of people present with sarcopenia (low muscle mass) prior to starting treatment.

Understanding the predictors of muscle loss will allow clinicians to identify people at high risk of muscle loss early and engage them in the supports and services that could assist in improving their experience, function, quality of life and survival.

“Currently we have no way of knowing who is at risk of muscle loss, which limits opportunities to provide timely and appropriate nutrition and exercise treatment,” Dr Kiss explained.

In addition, access to nutrition and exercise services for people with lung cancer is highly variable across health services nationally and internationally. Dr Kiss says there is a high demand for allied health services in cancer centres but limited resources to meet this demand.

“This research will also help us understand the factors contributing to muscle loss so we can design effective interventions in the future,” Dr Kiss said.

“We want to ensure that when we develop and test interventions in the future, that the intervention will be of high value to patients, clinicians and healthcare organisations.”

Following this study, Dr Kiss hopes to investigate combined nutrition and exercise interventions that are tailored to the needs of people with lung cancer who have sarcopenia.

Dr Brenton Baguley – Nutrition and exercise to counteract treatment side effects from prostate cancer

Androgen deprivation therapy is a common and mainstay treatment in advanced prostate cancer, which significantly reduces testosterone to slow cancer progression and improve survival.

Men often experience several debilitating side effects from this treatment which reduces quality of life during, and for many years after treatment. A Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr Brenton Baguley’s research focuses on nutrition and exercise intervention to counteract the cardiometabolic burden and body composition deteriorations seen from prostate cancer treatment of androgen deprivation therapy.

Modifying dietary intake with structured exercise may be the most effective strategy to counteract most side effects from androgen deprivation therapy. However men with prostate cancer are not often seen by a dietitian in health services.

“Currently the dietary recommendations for prostate cancer are limited to a small number of studies and expert opinions,” Dr Baguley explained.

“Structured exercise programs appear to improve muscle mass, physical fitness, and quality of life, however we need high quality nutrition evidence to potentially enhance the health benefit seen from exercise in men with prostate cancer.”

Dr Baguley has recently piloted a combined nutrition and exercise intervention in men with prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation therapy, and is working with the Movember Foundation to improve the provision of dietetic services, in a multi-component allied health intervention.

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