Nutrition therapy in cachectic cancer patients. The Tight Caloric Control (TiCaCo) pilot trial

Elisabeth De Waele, Sabrina Mattens, Patrick Maurice Honoré, Herbert Spapen, Jacques De Grève, Joeri J Pen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Cancer is a common disease and many patients are diagnosed with advanced stages. Due to cancer generalization, patients may become ill-nourished and even cachectic. Malignancy-related cachexia is associated with worsening physical function, reduced tolerance to anticancer therapy and increased mortality. We assessed the effect of a patient-tailored nutritional approach in newly discovered, treatment-naive cancer patients with cachexia.

METHODS: In a randomized, single-blinded, controlled pilot study, patients were treated with either intensive, biometric parameter-oriented dietary counseling (nutrition therapy) compared to regular dietary counseling (control), before and during conventional cancer treatment. Twenty patients were enrolled over a one-year period, 10 receiving nutrition therapy and 10 controls. The primary endpoint was recovery of body composition after nutrition therapy. Secondary endpoints declined in morbidity and mortality with nutrition therapy.

RESULTS: Average weight evolution in the control group after 3, 6 and 12 months was 0.19 ± 7.87 kg, -9.78 ± 7.00 kg and -5.8 kg, and in the nutrition therapy group 0.69 ± 2.4 kg, 0.77 ± 2.58 kg and 1.29 ± 3.76 kg. Control patients had a significantly longer average hospital stay than subjects from the nutrition therapy group (37.6 vs. 3.4 days). Eight nutrition therapy patients and 1 control patient were still alive after 2 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Nutrition therapy based on patient-specific biophysical parameters helps to maintain body weight and induces a more optimal nutritional balance in cachectic cancer patients. Moreover, survival in cancer patients improved when their nutritional status, even partially, ameliorated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-301
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • Cancer
  • Cachexia
  • Supportive care
  • Nutrition


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