Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at nutrition supplements and dietary advice for people due to have chemotherapy for advanced cancer
This trial looked at ways to help stop weight loss for people with advanced cancer.
If you lose a lot of weight before or during chemotherapy you are more likely to have side effects than if your weight remains stable. If the side effects are too severe, you may have to wait longer between treatments. Or stop chemotherapy early.
Researchers hoped that dietary advice and nutritional supplements would help people with advanced cancer to stop losing weight. If their weight was stable, they may have less severe side effects from chemotherapy. The research team hoped this would mean more patients could complete the course of chemotherapy as planned. But they were not sure if dietary advice and nutritional supplements would help in this way.
This trial recruited patients who were due to have chemotherapy for the following advanced cancers
- Stomach (gastric)
- Bowel (colon or rectal)
- Gullet (oesophagus)
- Non small cell lung cancer
The aim of this trial was to see if dietary advice and nutritional supplements could stop weight loss and how it would affect quality of life.
Summary of results
The research team found that giving dietary advice and nutritional supplements did not help to stop weight loss or improve the quality of life of people with advanced cancer.
This trial recruited 358 people. This was a randomised trial and neither the people taking part, nor their doctor could decide which group they were put in. There were 4 groups
- 96 people had no dietary advice or nutritional supplements
- 86 people had nutritional supplements only
- 90 people had dietary advice only
- 86 people had dietary advice and nutritional supplements
Those who received dietary advice and nutritional supplements did so for 6 weeks from the start of their chemotherapy.
Everyone taking part in the trial filled in a quality of life questionnaire at the start of the trial, at 6 weeks and 26 weeks.
The results of these questionnaires showed no major differences between the quality of life of each group.
The researchers noted that although the dietary advice was very simple and not difficult to follow most of the people did not stick to it. And they feel that this could have hidden any possible benefit from following the dietary advice.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr J Andreyev
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trustees
The Henry Smith Foundation