RANDOMS: Measuring the impact of malnutrition

Image: Dietitian Belinda Steer. 

A new study will aim to find the best tool to measure malnutrition for pancreatic cancer patients, and discover more about how body composition could affect the survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer.

Malnutrition and weight loss are some of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment, and they tend to be greater for people with gastro-intestinal cancers.

Body composition is the amount of muscle, fat, fluid and other tissues in the body. This varies widely between different people. The variations in body composition could explain why some people with cancer live longer than others.

People with cancer often lose muscle and fatty tissue. When malnutrition is extreme, it can develop into a syndrome known as cachexia, which contributes to a third of cancer deaths.

The RANDOMS study will be incorporated into the MASTERPLAN trial, which will open later this year. As part of the RANDOMS sub-study, which will be led by Principal Investigator dietitian Belinda Steer, researchers will measure the body composition of patients using two different tools.

They will use CT scans, which is the most accurate way to measure body composition but requires skilled staff and is time consuming. They will also use the Patient Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA), which is a faster method commonly used by dietitians to measure malnutrition. In this study, the relationship between these two methods will be analysed.

The causes of malnutrition and loss of body composition are still not fully understood. By discovering how different tools can be used to analyse changes in body composition during cancer treatment, researchers will deepen their understanding of how to improve their nutrition and their outcomes in the future.

Find out more about the MASTERPLAN trial here.