Soft, fortified ice-cream for head and neck cancer patients: a useful first step in nutritional and swallowing difficulties associated with multi-modal management
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Patients with head and neck cancer have complex swallowing and nutritional concerns. Most patients are malnourished, and treatment modalities within the aerodigestive tract have profound effects on future swallowing and nutrition. The objective of this study is to investigate whether the introduction of fortified soft ice-cream to post-operative head and neck cancer patients would increase compliance with oral-feeding regimes. Using a questionnaire study, an ice-cream machine that produces fortified soft ice-cream was introduced onto our ward, and 30 patients were asked to fill out questionnaires based on their experience in addition to their oral-feeding regime. Results indicate that overall patient satisfaction and compliance with oral-feeding regimes increased: 77% felt that the taste was excellent and also felt that it was easy to eat; 60% felt that it eased the symptoms associated with their symptoms, in particular its cold temperature. We conclude from the results that the inability of patients undergoing multi-modal treatment for upper aerodigestive tract cancer to enjoy normal foods and its effects on their quality of life is underestimated. Providing a food to that is palatable, familiar and acceptable as it is safe and nutritionally sound can increase compliance with oral-feeding regimes. The ice-cream was safe to use in the early post-operative period, especially soothing in patients undergoing upper aerodigestive radiotherapy and high in protein and calorific content. Our practice may have wider benefits, including patients with oral and oropharyngeal infections, the elderly and patients with neurological dysphagia resulting from stroke.
KeywordsIce-cream Nutrition Head and neck cancer Odynophagia
Conflict of interest
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