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Living Healthier lives during cancer treatment with optimal nutritional care


21 Sep 2020


Health & Consumers
Healthcare experts call to improve the nutritional care of cancer patients

On 21 September, during the ESPEN virtual Congress, cancer patients’ representatives, dietitians, cancer care givers and industry emphasised the importance of nutritional care during cancer treatment and called on the European Commission and EU Member States to make optimal nutritional care a pillar of the forthcoming European strategy to defeat cancer, as recommended by the Joint Statement ‘Making cancer-related complications and comorbidities an EU health priority1’.

The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA), the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians (EFAD), the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and the Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI) gathered at the ESPEN (virtual) 2020 Congress to discuss the importance of nutritional care in cancer treatment.

All emphasised four critical steps to improve nutritional care of cancer patients:

·         the need to adopt a patient centred approach, based on their needs

·         the need to screen , diagnose and treat malnutrition

·         the crucial role of dietitians to deliver tailored therapies to help malnourished patients meet their nutritional needs

·         and the urgency to apply existing guidelines, such as ESPEN guideline on nutrition in cancer patients

Jacqueline Daly – ECPC Board member stressed the unmet needs of cancer patients including the lack of information: “Nutrition is often overlooked in cancer care, leaving patients, their family and carers without proper information in nutrition and unsure on what to ask their doctors in regards to their individual nutritional needs.”

Professor Rocco Barazzoni - ESPEN Chairman – and Annemieke Van Ginkel-Res – EFAD President announced the cooperation between ESPEN and EFAD “to ensure doctors, dietitians and cancer care givers collaborate more closely to provide the best possible information and nutritional care for cancer patients at risk of malnutrition’.

Professor Maurizio Muscaritoli shed light on ESPEN ‘practical’ guidelines: shorter versions of the ESPEN clinical guidelines, supported by mobile/desktop apps to facilitate access and implementation. “The practical guidelines will make it easier to access and apply the recommendations. We invite colleagues looking after oncology patients to consult the ESPEN oncology guideline and download the upcoming app”.

The session closed with a call to action addressed to the European Commission and EU Member States to make optimal nutritional care a pillar of the forthcoming European strategy to defeat cancer (the so-called Europe Beating Cancer Plan), as recommended by the Joint Statement ‘Making cancer-related complications and morbidities an EU Health priority’.

For enquiries you may contact the MNI Secretariat:




ESPEN is the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. The aims of ESPEN are to encourage the rapid diffusion of knowledge and its application in the field of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition or, more broadly, Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. It promotes experimental and clinical research, fosters high ethical standards of practice and investigation, and promotes contact between investigators and clinicians in related fields.:


The European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA) is a charity, established to promote and implement nutritional risk screening and improve nutritional care for all European citizens. https://european-


Launched in 2014, the Optimal Nutritional Care for All (ONCA) campaign is a multi-stakeholder initiative to facilitate greater screening for risk of disease-related malnutrition/undernutrition and nutritional care implementation across Europe. The campaign supports national professional societies, associations and patient groups in public health and health care to implement nutritional risk screening and optimal nutritional care in their country.


MNI - The Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI) is the voice of the medical nutrition industry at international level. MNI gathers companies that offer specialised nutritional solutions and services designed to meet the diverse nutritional needs of patients. We strive to put nutrition at the heart of patient care and we aim at an environment that provides fair access to nutritional care throughout the world. MNI is dedicated to advancing better care through better nutrition, across all ages and healthcare settings.


With over 400 members, the ECPC is the largest European cancer patients’ association. Covering all 28 Member States, and many other European and non-European countries, the ECPC represents those affected by all types of cancers, from the rarest to the most common.


The  European  Federation  of  the  Associations  of  Dietitians  (EFAD)  was  established  in  1978.  The aims of EFAD are to:

·         Promote the development of the dietetic profession

·         Develop dietetics on a scientific and professional level in the common interest of the member associations

·         Facilitate communication between national dietetic associations and other organisations – professional, educational, and governmental

Encourage a better nutrition situation for the population of the member countries of Europe