Nutritional Management of Children with Cancer

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Please note professional development hours are applicable for Australian Continuing Education Requirements.

Childhood cancers occur in 1 in ~300 females and males, with the most common malignancy being Leukemia. Adequate nutrition support for the paediatric patient with cancer is an important part of their overall treatment regimen and survival. As well as improving growth, development and organ function, it appears to improve treatment tolerance and quality of life. A high percentage of paediatric oncology patients are malnourished at diagnosis. Factors that accompany the progressive disease and/or treatment, such as anorexia and vomiting, often lead to further deterioration in nutritional status. Such deterioration is of special concern when these patients receive intensive, high dose chemotherapy as it may render them less responsive to chemotherapy and more subject to its deleterious side effects. Nutritional support may be a combination of oral, enteral or parental nutrition support with indications depending on disease, GI symptoms and percentage of loss of weight.

Learning Objectives: 

Understand common cancers in childhood and treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, monoclonal antibody therapy, and stem cell and bone marrow transplant.

Identify paediatric oncology patients at risk of malnutrition and setting goals to optimise nutritional status, as well identifying potential barriers.

Distinguish between indications for oral, enteral and parenteral nutrition support and implementing the appropriate nutrition support.

Identify the post treatment effects and co-morbidities of children who have completed cancer treatment.


Sarah Ashley-Jones BSc, MNutrDiet, APD has specialised in paediatric dietetics over the last 7 years and is currently working at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Sarah is also working in a private paediatric group. She has special interest in paediatric gastroenterology and oncology, in particular bone marrow transplant. Recently, she has been awarded a RCH travel scholarship to attend clinical placement at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Kings College Hospital in United Kingdom.

A copy of the Presentation is available here.   A copy of the CE Questions are available here.

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