Supportive Patient Care
There are over 14 million people diagnosed with cancer who will likely receive chemotherapy and/or radiation as well as the accompanying treatment related gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. 2 The majority of patients experience these side effects including diarrhea, dehydration, oral mucositis (painful swelling of the tissue in the mouth), and gastritis.3
Depending upon the treatment regimen and individual patient variability, the patient’s reaction to therapy may vary. As a physician you understand that early supportive therapy can help limit or prevent acute and chronic complications, for this reason you may consider adding supportive care medications along with proper diet and hydration to manage these side effects.
Entrinsic Health Solutions developed enterade® to help manage the unique nutritional needs of patients receiving treatments for cancer. Adding enterade® to your patient’s daily routine can help manage and maintain GI function and provide the nutrients and hydration needed to minimize the side effects of cancer therapy. enterade® improves how patients feel so they can fight back and remain on necessary therapy.
The Effects of Chemotherapy
and Radiation on Patient Treatment
Drinking enterade® Throughout Treatment
Can Help Reduce and Manage GI-related side effects.
GI symptoms are the most common of all the acute and chronic physical side effects of the treatment of cancer and have the greatest impact on the patient’s quality of life and may lead to a reduction in treatment dosing or possible discontinuation of therapy.8 A proportion of patients have ongoing GI problems. Specific drug treatments together with the degree of damage to the mucosa and submucosa may also play a role in the development of chronic GI problems.9
While chemotherapy and radiation treatments act aggressively on the growing cancer cells, they also target and affect healthy non-cancerous cells. Among these healthy cells are those that are rapidly regenerating. The most sensitive and vulnerable of these cells are found in the lining of the GI tract, mouth and stomach.
The risks, severity, and incidence of GI symptoms from receiving chemotherapy or radiation are affected by various factors including:
Challenges of the Patient Experience
Feel Better With enterade®
Treatment Induced Mucositis Mucositis may be caused by either radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Care of mucositis during chemotherapy and radiation therapy include little more than cleaning the mouth, swishing ice chips and relieving pain. 15
Treatment Induced Diarrhea Severe and life-threatening diarrhea can occur in up to 30% of cancer patients.16 Despite the high incidence and potential severity of chemotherapy induced diarrhea, it is often under recognized, poorly understood and improperly managed.16
Radiation-induced diarrhea occurs with varying incidence of severity based upon, field size, fraction size and total dose of radiation given, and can be severe and life threatening. The incidence of grade 3/4 diarrhea ranges from 20% to 40% in patients receiving a combined chemoradiotherapy.17
A study of patient preferences and symptom distress demonstrates the symptoms most feared by patients.11
- Treatment Induced Nausea and Vomiting
- Treatment Induced Mucositis
- Treatment Induced Diarrhea
The assessment of patient preference and side effect evaluation revealed mucositis, and diarrhea to be the most distressing among all symptoms.11
How Treatment for Cancer Affects the GI System
enterade® Delivers Improved GI Health by Rebuilding, Protecting, and Hydrating
The treatment of cancer indiscriminately targets rapidly dividing cells in the GI tract. One specific section impacted are the villis and crypt regions of the intestinal mucosa.18
The villi promote proper absorption of nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids. A crucial area in the villi is located on the tip, where glucose is absorbed. In healthy villi, glucose is used as a transport mechanism to promote proper absorption. However, in patients undergoing the treatment of cancer, the villi may be blunted and their absorptive properties are greatly diminished leading to reduced retention, resulting in improper nutrient absorption and dehydration. In a damaged GI system, the blunted villi are unable to absorb glucose-bound nutrients and electrolytes.
Specific GI dysfunction caused by cancer treatment include:
• Intestinal villi blunting- altered nutrient absorption
• Reduced crypt cells-decreased generation of cells for healing and repair
Gut Barrier Function
The mucosa of the GI tract is lined by a single layer of epithelial cells which separates luminal contents from the internal milieu of the body.19 They play a key role in the mediation of intestinal homeostasis and help maintain an immunological environment conducive to normal function and health.20
The enterocytes act as the main physical barrier preventing harmful pathogens, (i.e. toxins and or bacteria) from entering the mucosa.20,21,22 When these regions are exposed to a toxic environment (e.g. treatment of cancer) the integrity of the gut barrier function is compromised leading to failure of tight junctions resulting in antigenic translocation. Bacterial translocation can cause local and systemic inflammation resulting in the following side effects: diarrhea, oral mucositis, dehydration, and gastritis.
Similarly, research has shown that glucose can cause active chloride secretion in the enterocyte which reduces net fluid absorption, and increases fluid and electrolyte loss, exacerbating GI dysfunction. Additionally, glucose has been shown to weaken the gut barrier function increasing paracellular permeability, which results in antigenic translocation and inflammation.23