Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 301–307 | Cite as

Nutrition intervention using an eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-containing supplement in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Effects on nutritional and inflammatory status: a phase II trial

  • Jane A. Read
  • Philip J. Beale
  • Dianne H. Volker
  • Narelle Smith
  • Annabel Childs
  • Stephen J. Clarke
Original Article



The aim of the study was to assess the impact of an eicosapentanoic acid-containing protein and energy dense oral nutritional supplement (EPA-ONS) on nutritional and inflammatory status, quality of life (QOL), plasma phospholipids (PPL) and cytokine profile, tolerance of irinotecan-containing chemotherapy and EPA-ONS in patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) receiving chemotherapy.

Materials and methods

Patients with advanced CRC having one prior chemotherapy regimen received 480 ml of EPA-ONS daily for 3 weeks before commencing chemotherapy with folinic acid, 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan (FOLFIRI), and continued for 3 cycles of treatment (9 weeks). All assessments including weight, body composition, C-reactive protein (CRP), QOL, dietary intake, PPL and cytokine analyses were performed at baseline, 3 and 9 weeks.


Twenty-three patients were enrolled, 20 completed 3 weeks, and 15 completed 9 weeks. The mean EPA-ONS intake was 1.7 tetrapaks (408 ml) daily. There was a significant increase in mean weight (2.5 kg) at 3 weeks (p = 0.03). Lean body mass (LBM) was maintained. Protein and energy intake significantly decreased after the commencement of chemotherapy (protein p = 0.003, energy p = 0.02). There was a significant increase in energy levels (p = 0.03), whilst all other QOL measures were maintained. PPL EPA levels increased significantly over the first 3 weeks. Mean CRP increased by 14.9 mg/L over the first 3 weeks (p = 0.004), but decreased to baseline levels by the end of the trial. There was a significant correlation between plasma IL-6 and IL-10 concentrations and survival, and between IL-12 and toxicity.


Dietary counseling and the provision of EPA-ONS may result in maintenance of nutritional status and QOL, however randomized trials are required to evaluate the impact of EPA on toxicity from chemotherapy.


Nutritional status EPA CRP Chemotherapy Toxicity Colorectal cancer 



The EPA-containing supplement (ProSure™) was provided by Abbott Australasia. Dietary analysis was provided by Xingying Weng. The Sydney University Human Nutrition Unit and the Flinder’s Medical Centre Child Nutrition Research Centre conducted the fatty acid analysis. Westmead Hospital provided the cytokine analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane A. Read
    • 1
  • Philip J. Beale
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dianne H. Volker
    • 3
  • Narelle Smith
    • 4
  • Annabel Childs
    • 1
  • Stephen J. Clarke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Sydney Cancer CentreRoyal Prince Alfred Hospital and Concord HospitalSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of MedicineSydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Human Nutrition UnitSydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Mathematical SciencesUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of MedicineUniversity of Sydney Concord HospitalConcord, SydneyAustralia

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