The relevance of nutrition to pediatric oncology: A cancer control perspective
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It is indisputable that adequate and appropriate nutrition is fundamental to the health, growth, and development of infants, children, and adolescents, including those with cancer. Nutrition has a role in most of the accepted components of the cancer control spectrum, from prevention through to palliation. The science of nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, and bioactive foods (phytochemicals), and how nutrition affects cancer biology and cancer treatment, is growing. Nutritional epigenetics is giving us an understanding that there are possible primary prevention strategies for pediatric cancers, especially during conception and pregnancy, which need to be studied. Primary prevention of cancer in adults, such as colorectal cancer, should commence early in childhood, given the long gestation of nutritionally related cancers. Obesity avoidance is definitely a target for both pediatric and adult cancer prevention, commencing in childhood. There is now compelling evidence that the nutritional status of children with cancer, both overweight and underweight, does affect cancer outcomes. This is a potentially modifiable prognostic factor. Consistent longitudinal nutritional assessment of patients from diagnosis through treatment and long-term follow-up is required so that interventions can be implemented and evaluated. While improving, there remains a dearth of basic and clinical nutritional research in pediatric oncology. The perspective of evaluating nutrition as a cancer control factor is discussed in this article.
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