Prevalence Of Gastrointestinal Tract Cancer And Level Of Malnutrition Among Patients Enrolling Into Care At Uganda Cancer Institute.
Background: Gastrointestinal cancers constitute one of the major health burdens to humans. The available options for treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy may impose nutrition risks, especially when patients develop gastrointestinal side effects. The effects may even become adverse if treatment is initiated in patients who are already malnourished. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of gastrointestinal cancer types and level of malnutrition in gastrointestinal cancer patients. Methods: This was a cross sectional study on 288 patients enrolling for care at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). Clinical data and assessment of nutritional status was done with the help of study physicians. The relationship between malnutrition and gastrointestinal cancers was determined using one way ANOVA. For all statistical tests, P-values less than 0.05 were considered significant. The results: Gastrointestinal lymphomas and esophageal cancer were the most common gastrointestinal cancer types at 34% and 20.2% respectively. Of the total 288 cancer patients that were examined, 34 (11.8%) appeared with severe malnutrition (BMI <16 kg/m 2 ), 27 (9.4%) presented with moderate malnutrition (BMI: 16-16.99 kg/m 2 ), 21 (7.3%) with mild malnutrition. There was a significant difference in the level of malnutrition, according to gastrointestinal cancer type (F-statistic= 8.2; P-value=0.001). More severely malnourished patients had stomach cancer, followed by cholangiocarcinoma (biliarsy) which registered 21.4% patients with severe malnutrition. Conclusions and recommendations: The prevalence of gastrointestinal lymphomas, esophageal and liver cancer was high more especially among the men and also present among the young population. Larger surveys covering different regions of the country would be needed to provide a more comprehensive picture of the burden of gastrointestinal cancer in Uganda. The information then obtained may guide in planning and development of strategies that may be needed in the provision of appropriate care and treatment of the affected patients, such as free screenings for cancer, and improved accessibility to medical care. In addition, the constitution of an operational nutrition department at the UCI is also highly recommended to screen patients for malnutrition before treatment is initiated more especially among those presenting with stomach and biliary cancer were malnutrition is higher. Nutritional support can be given to these patients and those that are already affected can be further managed at this unit in order to improve their treatment outcomes.
- Bachelors in Nursing