The objective of this systematic review was to describe nutrition-related publications on children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer in Brazil.
The methodology followed that of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Medline, LILACS (the Latin American & Caribbean Health Sciences Literature), and Embase were searched in April 2019, and data extraction and rating of methodologic study quality (according to the National Institutes of Health quality score assessment) were performed independently by reviewers.
Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria, reporting on 3,509 patients from 1994 to 2018. Most of the studies (74%) were of poor quality in methodology and reporting. Different cancer diagnoses were included in 52% of studies, whereas acute leukemia was the exclusive focus in 41%. The majority of the articles (70%) were from institutions in the Southeast Region of Brazil, mainly the state of São Paulo (74%); no publications were from the North Region of the country. Twelve studies addressed nutritional status and body composition, reporting an abundance of malnourished patients in the Brazilian population of children and adolescents with cancer. Six studies on micronutrients pointed to possible deficiencies in this population, with a yet unclear but promising role for supplementation during treatment.
Evidence indicates that there is great interest in the impact of nutrition on childhood cancer treatment and clinical outcomes in Brazil. However, there is a need to focus on high-quality research, particularly with multicentric/national studies. This will help establish research priorities and better planned clinical interventions, adapted to each region of the country.