Deakin University

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Defining a new model of interdisciplinary cancer cachexia care in regional Victoria, Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Vanessa VaughanVanessa Vaughan, H Farrell, Paul Lewandowski, Scott McCoombe, Peter MartinPeter Martin
Purpose: Cachexia is a wasting condition affecting approximately 50% of cancer patients, associated with decreased quality of life and survival. Barwon Health’s Cachexia and Nutrition Support Service provides person-centred interdisciplinary care to assist the management of cachexia symptoms. This study describes a novel and effective service model established in a regional cachexia clinic and the patient population it serves. Methods: A descriptive, retrospective longitudinal study was conducted of records from patients attending Barwon Health between 2008 and 2013 (n = 175), alongside the description of service refinement over this time. Patients with ≥ 2 attendance dates were assessed for anthropometric measures, follow-up intervals, and muscle function outcomes to describe patient trajectory during clinic involvement. Results: This is the first detailed description of a successful interdisciplinary clinic specific to cancer cachexia management, where patients are seen outside established 8- to 12-week structured programs which prevail in other cachexia clinics. Seventy-five patients (43%) attended one appointment only, with almost half of these (n = 33) first attending within 60 days of death. Of the 99 patients with two or more appointments, 49% displayed positive outcomes with > 2-kg weight gain between two consecutive appointments, and > 50% improved functional strength between two consecutive appointments. Conclusions: The majority of patients attending clinic multiple times maintained or increased weight and functional status during their involvement with the service. However, successes of care provision were muted by high attrition, primarily due to delayed referral and expected high mortality within the study cohort. Planned future analyses with greater patient numbers and cancer stratification will establish cachectic populations most likely to benefit from this novel mode of interdisciplinary care. The Cachexia and Nutrition Support Service provides an effective and efficient service model for the provision of specialist cachexia care to community-dwelling patients in regional Australia.



Supportive care in cancer




3041 - 3049




Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal