New clinical trial aims to reduce malnutrition among patients with lung cancer

A new clinical trial at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) aims to reduce malnutrition among patients with lung cancer by offering nutritional counseling and medically tailored meals to at-risk patients.

The project is funded by a $2.3 million research grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, awarded to Colleen Spees, PhD, RD, and Carolyn Presley, MD, MPH of the OSUCCC - James. The study will begin in December 2019 and open to recruitment in August 2020 at the OSUCCC -James, Tufts Medical Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Spees serves as co-principal investigator (PI) of the overall study protocol with Fang Fang Zhang, PhD, of Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Presley serves as PI of the Ohio State University clinical trial site.

An estimated 70% of all patients with lung cancer are malnourished at some point in their treatment. Malnutrition can lead to disruptions in care that reduce overall quality of life and treatment effectiveness.

When compared with other forms of cancer, lung cancer disproportionately affects vulnerable populations - those who are economically disadvantaged, uninsured, racial/ethnic minorities, older adults and rural residents. These patients often experience a double-hit because they have limited resources, resulting in inadequate access to health care and nutritious foods. Timely, effective and tailored nutrition interventions are a critical component in countering lung cancer disparities among these vulnerable populations."

Dr. Colleen Spees, associate professor, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Study design

For this randomized study, the research team will recruit up to 150 newly diagnosed patients with lung cancer across all four medical centers set to undergo systemic therapy, multi-modal therapy or post-surgery adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy alone or followed by radiation therapy). Patients in the intervention group will receive behavioral-based, remote medical nutrition therapy and home-delivered, medically tailored meals.

Although nutrition is a modifiable risk factor for lung cancer-associated morbidity and mortality, researchers note it remains one of the leading causes of failing health in this patient population.

"Our goal is to help patients achieve optimal nutritional status so they remain strong throughout the course of treatment and recovery. Providing medically tailored meals that address a patient's specific nutritional needs while undergoing treatment is emerging as a promising strategy to improve the overall health outcomes of our patients," says Dr. Presley, a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of lung cancer at the OSUCCC - James.

Lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer-related deaths among both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. More people die in the United States annually of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

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