Researchers from the University of Sheffield observed, during a cross-sectional survey, that patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) were not receiving sufficient nutritional support. These findings were published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

Seventy-five survivors of CRC were recruited through social media and support groups in 2017. Participants responded to a 6-section online questionnaire that assessed demographics, cancer history, and nutrition.

Participants had early (56%) and late (44%) stage CRC of the rectum (50.7%) or colon (49.3%) with a colostomy (45.3%). The majority had finished treatment (56%).

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The most commonly reported nutritional difficulties during their cancer treatment was diarrhea (73.3%), uncertainty of what to eat (70.7%), loss of appetite (61.3%), and alterations of senses (58.7%).

The majority of participants (69.3%) reported receiving no nutritional advice, most of whom were unaware that advice existed (45%) or that they had access to it (24%). Among those who were advised, received it from a nurse (56.5%), general dietitian (34.8%), or a cancer dietitian (26.1%). Some respondents (6) reported receiving conflicting advice.

Despite little clinical support, 73.3% of participants reported seeking nutritional advice, most commonly from cancer charity websites (49.3%) or general medical advice online (29.3%).

The major limitation of this study was the choice to survey survivor groups, which may have introduced selection bias.

These results indicated a general lack of nutritional support for patients with CRC across the United Kingdom. Patients indicated that a personalized approach for each stage of the cancer treatment process was needed, as many patients reported unique difficulties that shifted throughout treatment.


Matsell SL, Sánchez-García MA, Halliday V, Williams EA, Corfe BM. Investigating the nutritional advice and support given to colorectal cancer survivors in the UK: is it fit for purpose and does it address their needs? J Hum Nutr Diet. Published online September 20, 2020. doi:10.111/jhn.12815

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor