New Clinical Trial Aims to Reduce Malnutrition Among Patients with Lung Cancer


Four cancer centers are joining forces on a new clinical trial designed to test medically tailored meals for patients with lung cancer to combat malnutrition.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), along with Tufts Medical Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, announced a new clinical trial aiming to reduce malnutrition among patients with lung cancer by offering nutritional counseling and medically tailored meals to patients at-risk.1

According to Colleen Spees, PhD, RD, School of Health and Rehabilitation Services, OSUCCC-James, the current ratio of dietitians to patients with cancer is 1 dietitian to every 2,300 patients. It is Spees’ hope that other practitioners acknowledge the importance of identifying malnutrition early and addressing nutritional needs before, during, and after cancer treatment.

Spees serves as co-principal investigator (PI) of the overall study protocol alongside Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy, Tufts University.

“If we can keep patients well-nourished and strong throughout treatment and while transitioning into post-treatment survivorship, we believe we can improve quality of life, reduce treatment toxicities, and improve health outcomes,” Spees said.

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

“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,” Carolyn Presley, MD, MHS, department of internal medicine, OSUCCC-James, said.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. About 13% of all new cancers are lung cancers.2

A similar clinical trial at the University of Hong Kong aims to discover the physical activity preferences of patients with lung cancer, in hopes of developing a lifestyle modification program for patients’ needs and preferences.3

1. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center [press release]. Study Tests ‘Medically Tailored’ Meals for Patients with Lung Cancer to Combat Malnutrition During Treatment. Accessed November 13, 2019.
2. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer. American Cancer Society website. Published October 1, 2019. Accessed November 13, 2019.
3. Lifestyle Modification Program for Lung Cancer Patients – Physical Activity Preference. Updated September 26, 2019. Accessed November 13, 2019.

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