New equipment for assessing cancer patients

Special equipment to enable a more accurate method of assessing nutrition in cancer patients is available at Guy’s and St Thomas’, thanks to the help of your donations.

Alice Champion, Specialist Upper-GI Surgery Dietitian; Rhys White, Principal Oncology Dietician; and Rebecca Bradshaw, Senior Specialist Lower-GI Surgery Dietitian
Alice Champion, Specialist Upper-GI Surgery Dietitian; Rhys White, Principal Oncology Dietician; and Rebecca Bradshaw, Senior Specialist Lower-GI Surgery Dietitian

Ten handgrip dynamometers have been bought to measure grip strength, which is the most common measure of strength in hospitals and an extremely reliable method for cancer patients.

The importance of nutrition

Rates of malnutrition are high for people with cancer, which has a huge impact on how a patient responds to treatment. For this reason, nutritional assessment is a crucial part of a cancer patient’s journey.

When assessing nutritional support and its outcomes for cancer patients, muscle mass and strength change are the most valuable things to measure.

‘Weight isn’t a particularly useful measure on its own so the more tools you can use to get a more holistic view of someone’s nutritional status, the better,’ explains Rhys White, principal oncology dietitian. ‘We measure someone’s weight and strength to see whether that improves or reduces, and alter our nutritional care plans as a result of this.’

Finding results fast

The dynamometers are great for providing motivation for cancer patients as it’s encouraging for them to see an improvement in their strength – a change they’re likely to see faster than weight gain. When this can be linked to the dietary changes they’ve been recommended to make, patients are more likely to stick to them.

Also, because strength gains are seen more quickly than muscle mass changes, the new handgrip dynamometers are the ideal method for monitoring cancer patients who are on a short course of treatment such as six weeks of radiotherapy.

A strong impact

The oncology dietetic team sees over 4,000 outpatients a year, so the ten new pieces of small, yet essential equipment will make a huge impact on the outcomes of cancer patients.

‘Having these handgrip dynamometers means that the oncology dietitians are able to make a more detailed and accurate assessment of nutritional status,’ says Rhys. ‘As a result, we can provide more tailored and appropriate nutritional care to our patients.’

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