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

Ms Jenelle Loeliger1, Ms Jane Stewart1, Ms 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. VCMC projects 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 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 25% in 2016 (n=1351). Work in 2017-18 has highlighted clinical practice and education needs in the primary care and community sector in regards to cancer malnutrition.

Significance of the findings to allied health: 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 Loeliger is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and currently the Interim Director of Allied Health at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She is passionate about implementing evidence based practice into usual care and ensuring patients with cancer have access to high quality allied health services. Jenelle conducts projects/research across various areas within cancer and provides state-wide leadership to the Victorian Cancer Malnutrition Collaborative program of work which helps to reduce the burden of malnutrition on patients with cancer.