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Open Access Article

Putting Evidence Into Practice®: Evidence-Based Interventions to Prevent and Manage Anorexia

Lynn A. Adams
Nancy Shepard
Rose Ann Caruso
Martha J. Norling
Heather Belansky
Regina S. Cunningham
CJON 2009, 13(1), 95-102 DOI: 10.1188/09.CJON.95-102

Anorexia is defined as an involuntary loss of appetite.Approximately 50% of newly diagnosed patients with cancer experience the symptom, which often is accompanied by weight loss and most typically associated with advanced disease.Anorexia significantly affects the clinical course of cancer; it can lead to the development or exacerbation of disease- or treatment-related symptoms, decreased functional status, and diminished quality of life.As part of the Oncology Nursing Society's Putting Evidence Into Practice® initiative, a team of oncology nurses examined and evaluated published research literature for the purpose of developing an evidence-based practice resource focused on the management of cancer-related anorexia.Even though anorexia is common among newly diagnosed patients and those with advanced disease, interventions to prevent, treat, and manage the symptom are limited.The evidence revealed that only two pharmacologic interventions, corticosteroids and progestins, can be recommended for use in clinical practice, and dietary counseling was identified as likely to be effective.This article summarizes selected empirical literature on interventions used to prevent and manage anorexia in patients with cancer.Familiarity with the literature will assist oncology nurses in proactively identifying and effectively managing patients experiencing this distressing symptom.

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