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  • Nutrition


Cancer is a result of the uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way.

It will affect around 1 in 2 people in the UK,1 with long-term outcomes largely dependent on the type of cancer, and how early it is detected and treated.

People with cancer are at risk of not obtaining the nutrition they need, which may be the result of the disease itself, or side effects of common treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It can also cause a loss of appetite and alter dietary needs.2 Potential side effects of cancer may include a change in the body’s ability to break down and utilise carbohydrates, protein and fat.2 Cancer treatment side effects can also lead to a dry or sore mouth, changes in how food tastes, and feeling sick, which can all affect food intake.2

Nutritional Management

To prevent weight loss, people with cancer often require a diet that’s high in calories.2If individuals are unable to obtain sufficient nutrition via their normal diet, oral nutritional supplements can help to provide the nutrients and calories they need. Alternatively, if the person cannot chew or swallow, or cannot eat sufficient amounts, a feeding tube can be used to provide nutrients directly into the stomach or small bowel.

Tips & Suggestions

People with cancer may find it easier to eat smaller meals and snacks rather than three large meals a day. They may also find it helpful to avoid strong-smelling and greasy foods. If the person has a sore mouth as a result of treatment, ice lollies can have a soothing effect.


For people with cancer, the following feeds may be suitable:

Ensure Plus range

Our oral nutritional supplements for adults and older children include the Ensure Plus range. Ensure Plus comes in a variety of great-tasting flavours, and the range includes milkshake, yoghurt and juice styles, as well as crème (dessert-style). There are also fibre-containing products within the range.

Tube Feeding range

Our tube feeds are designed for people who cannot take in all of the calories and nutrients they need by mouth. Tube feeding usually starts in hospital, and involves delivering a nutritionally complete, liquid feed directly into the stomach or small bowel via a narrow tube. Once the individual leaves hospital, the person, or their carer, will be trained on how to manage feeding at home.


ProSure is a 1.3kcal/ml, ready-to-drink, oral nutritional supplement enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. ProSure contains a mix of fibre and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides). Fibre and FOS have an important role in the diet by helping to support gastrointestinal function.3 ProSure is suitable for cancer patients with weight loss.

Vital 1.5kcal

Vital 1.5kcal is suitable for people with disease-related malnutrition and malabsorption or for those who experience symptoms of poor feed tolerance. Vital 1.5kcal is a peptide-based* feed that is available both as a 200ml oral nutritional supplement, and as a 1000ml Ready to Hang tube feed, both of which attach directly to Abbott giving sets.

*Peptides are partially broken down proteins, which makes them easier to digest and absorb in the gut than whole proteins.

To find out more about any particular product in our wide range of adult, older children and paediatric feeds, please click here.


  1. NHS, 2019: Last accessed June 2020
  2. PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Nutrition in Cancer Care. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated March 2018. Available at: June 2020
  3. Bouhnik Y et al. Nutr J 2006;5:85..

Date of preparation June 2020 UK-ENSP-2000006

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