Reducing the cancer malnutrition burden: highlights of state-wide collaborations in Victoria

Jenelle Loeliger1, Jane Stewart1, Belinda Steer1, Dr Nicole Kiss2

1Peter Maccallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia, 2Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

Aim: Cancer malnutrition is common and associated with poor outcomes. The Victorian Cancer Malnutrition Collaborative (VCMC) program of work is a state-wide collaboration between Peter Mac, Victorian state government, Victorian health services and other interested parties. The VCMC program of work aimed to increase understanding and knowledge, and promote strategies for action in order to address cancer malnutrition.

Method: VCMC projects consisted of repeat biennial malnutrition point prevalence studies (PPS), local health service and state-wide projects developing/evaluating resources for patients and health professionals, targeted clinical redesign/implementation projects and system-wide improvements.

Results: Work over the past 8 years has identified the extent of cancer malnutrition in health services, identified service gaps and developed and evaluated resources (including eLearning packages targeting cancer care clinicians, nutrition governance toolkit for practical health service application). More than 22 local and targeted state-wide projects were conducted between 2013-16, focused on improving clinical pathways of care, sustainability of resources, improving malnutrition screening in culturally and linguistically diverse populations and hospital food service models. Cancer malnutrition PPS were conducted in each phase and demonstrated a state-wide reduction in malnutrition prevalence from 31% (2012, n=1693), 26% (2014, n=1913) to 23% in 2016 (n=1351) (2018 result pending). Work in 2017-18 has highlighted clinical practice and education needs in the primary care and community sector in regards to cancer malnutrition. A nutrition oncology care pathway is currently being co-designed by health professionals and consumers in addition to translating/culturally adapting the Malnutrition Screening Tool into Victoria’s top 10 languages other than English.

Conclusion: State-wide collaboration has led to measurable improvements in patient and organisational outcomes, reduced variation through sharing/delivering best practice nutrition approaches and improved multidisciplinary awareness of cancer malnutrition.


Jenelle is the Head of Nutrition and Speech Pathology at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. As a clinical dietitian by background, Jenelle is passionate about effectively implementing evidence into practice through innovative leadership, research and service design work focused on improving outcomes for those with cancer. Jenelle also provides state-wide leadership to the Victorian Cancer Malnutrition Collaborative (VCMC) program of work.

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