Degree Name

Master of Science


The study investigates the nutritional status of patients receiving radiotherapy for treatment of cancer in an outpatient setting. There were 39 subjects who were divided into four study groups depending on the positon of their treatment field. Three patients received treatment to the head and neck area (HN), 17 patients were receiving abdomino-pelvic irradiation (AP), 15 received radiotherapy to the chest (C) and five received treatment to parts of the body not associated with the gastrointestinal tract (O). Anthropometric, clinical and dietary indicators of nutritional status were used, these included measurements of Body Mass Index and weight loss, a subjective questionnaire in which patients reported possible nutrition compromising side effects of treatment and a 24 hour dietary recall to estimate energy and protein intakes before and after treatment. The anthropometric and dietary indicators altered little with treatment and did not indicate a change in nutritional status. The clinical indicators were most important in detecting changes in the nutritional status of the patients. Clinical indications of declining nutritional status differed between the study groups. The AP group was found to be likely to develop diarrhoea during the course of radiotherapy. The C group was found to be at high risk of developing dysphagia during treatment. The HN group was expected to suffer the most changes in clinical indicators such as anorexia, xerostomia, dysphagia and dysgeusia, however, the number of patients in the group was too small to draw any meaningful results. The study recommends that a number of indicators of nutritional status, including anthropometric, biochemical, clinical and dietary indicators should be used when assessing the nutritional status of cancer patients.