Nutrition Management for the Head and Neck Cancer Patient

  • Denise Ackerman
  • Meghan Laszlo
  • Arlene Provisor
  • Adern Yu
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 174)


Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients often face multiple nutritional challenges before, during, and after treatment due to the close proximity of the cancer to organs that are vital for normal eating function. Common treatment-related side effects, such as dysphagia, odynophagia, dysgeusia, xerostomia, thick saliva, mucositis, nausea, and vomiting, all further impair the patient’s ability to maintain adequate oral intake. Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss in HNC patients during and after treatment are associated with poorer treatment outcomes, increased morbidity and mortality, and poor quality of life, even in overweight and obese patients whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is not suggestive of malnutrition. The main nutrition goal for HNC patients is thus to maximize nutrition intake either orally or through nutrition support therapy in order to prevent or limit weight loss, preserve lean body mass, minimize treatment delays and unplanned hospitalizations, and improve treatment outcomes. This chapter will discuss nutrition interventions to manage common symptoms before, during, and after treatment for HNC. Guidelines will be provided for patients that require enteral nutrition or less commonly, parenteral nutrition.


Head and neck cancer Malnutrition Dysphagia Mucositis Xerostomia Nasogastric tube Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy Enteral nutrition Parenteral nutrition 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise Ackerman
    • 1
  • Meghan Laszlo
    • 2
  • Arlene Provisor
    • 2
  • Adern Yu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Division of Head and Neck SurgeryCity of Hope National Medical CenterDuarteUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryCedars-Sinai Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

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