Nutrient intake of children with cancer
Two hundred seventy-seven pediatric cancer patients received a nutritional assessment at diagnosis and six months after diagnosis. Initial dietary intakes of patients with no prior treatment demonstrated a diet similar to that of the general population. The mean caloric intake was 75 percent of the RDA in a group of patients with nonmalignant diseases, and 80 percent of the RDA in the groups of patients with solid tumors and hematopoietic malignancies. Mean protein intake was greater than 100 percent of the RDA for all groups. Dietary iron was the nutrient lowest in intake with a range of 70-78 percent of the RDA for all groups. At six-month evaluations, no significant changes occurred except for an increase in iron, niacin, riboflavin, and protein intake in the group with solid tumors. Children with Ewing's sarcoma presented with a low weight/height percent (~84%), whereas all other diagnoses were adequate in weight/height percent (>98%). After six months of treatment, the greatest weight/height percent decrease was seen in soft tissue sarcoma and osteosarcoma patients. These data suggest that aggressive nutritional counseling should begin immediately with emphasis on maintaining adequate caloric intake.