Fox Chase Researcher Receives Grant to Study Implementation of Nutrition Plans for Lung Cancer Patients

Jessica Bauman, MD
Jessica Bauman, MD

PHILADELPHIA (April 17, 2020)—A researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center is a member of a team that was recently awarded a $2.3 million grant for a multicenter randomized clinical trial to study the use of medically tailored meals and individually-tailored nutrition counseling as part of care for lung cancer patients.

“This research is evaluating the efficacy of an innovative nutritional intervention into the care of vulnerable patients with lung cancer and whether the intervention can help improve treatment completion, reduce the side effects of treatment, and improve their quality of life,” said Jessica Bauman, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase.

Bauman is the principal investigator at Fox Chase and is collaborating with Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, the study’s lead investigator, who is based at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Additional clinical sites include the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Tufts Medical Center. The three-year grant was awarded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Bridging Cancer Care program.

The trial will enroll 150 newly diagnosed stage I-IV lung cancer patients from vulnerable populations, including those who are uninsured, economically disadvantaged, older adults, rural residents or racial/ethnic minorities.

One group will receive an evidence-based nutrition toolkit with printed material. The second group will receive the evidence-based nutrition toolkit as well as home delivery of medically tailored meals and remote individualized nutrition counseling from registered dietitians led by a team at Ohio State.

“This study is unique in the country because it is one of the first efforts to evaluate strategies to integrate nutrition into oncology care through oncologists prescribing medically tailored meals and referring patients to registered dietitians for nutrition counseling. We are testing and applying the principal that food is medicine, specifically to see if we can help to address cancer disparities,” said Zhang.

Lung cancer patients are involved in this study because they are among the most malnourished of all oncology patients. Up to 69 percent of patients with lung cancer are malnourished, and nearly 35 percent have clinically significant weight loss of more than 10 percent, indicating severe malnutrition, Bauman said.

“While nutrition is one of the few modifiable risk factors for lung cancer-associated morbidity and mortality, it remains the single leading cause of failing health, often ignored by our health care system,” the grant application states.

Bauman, Zhang, and the larger research team hope the study findings will support policy changes so that a full integration of nutrition services is included as part of standard care for vulnerable cancer patients.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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