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Perioperative nutrition interventions for women with ovarian cancer


Billson, HA., et al

Subject Keywords: This review was conducted to assess the effects of nutrition interventions during the perioperative period for women with ovarian cancer
Set: Cancer
Chronic Conditions
Type: Article
Region: International (other)

Women who have ovarian cancer, (a cancer which develops in the two organs (ovaries) that produce eggs in women) are more likely to have difficulties with food and with eating a nourishing diet in comparison to women with other types of gynaecological cancers. One reason may be because the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise. Women may have a lack of interest in food, feel full, feel sick or have a painful or swollen abdomen. Some women become thinner in parts of their bodies while becoming bigger around their abdomen due to an abnormal build up of fluid or large tumours. There may be no change in body weight or weight may increase, this can make it difficult to know which women are developing problems due to a poor food intake.

Women who are unable to eat and drink well are at risk of becoming malnourished and may then have more complications from the treatments for ovarian cancer than women who are not malnourished. It is recommended that people who are having difficulties with eating and drinking should be identified and helped when they receive hospital care. Currently, there is no agreed method for finding and treating nutritional problems for women with ovarian cancer.

In this review, the authors looked for studies (randomised controlled trials (RCTs)) from around the world to find out how women with ovarian cancer were assessed to see if they were eating and drinking well and what help they may be given with nutrition before or after surgery. A lack of information was found on this topic.

One RCT was found where a small group of women (40 including 35 with ovarian cancer) requiring extensive elective surgery for gynaecological cancer including surgery to the gut, were able to restart eating normal foods on the day after surgery. They were able to leave hospital earlier and did not have more complications in the month after surgery than women who were not allowed to resume eating normal foods until at least three days after the operation.

More studies are needed to confirm whether restarting normal eating one day after surgery can be recommended for women having surgery for ovarian cancer. More research is needed to provide information about how to identify and treat problems of malnutrition in women with ovarian cancer.



Rights: © The Cochrane Collaboration
Suggested citation:

Billson, HA., et al. (2013) Perioperative nutrition interventions for women with ovarian cancer [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st May 2018].


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