Nutrition and Cachexia Study Group Profile

Nutrition and Cachexia Study Group Profile

March 2019

Study Group Leaders

Chair, Elizabeth (Liz) Isenring, PhD. Liz Isenring, an advanced accredited practicing dietitian (AdvAPD), is Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, Bond University, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland, Australia. She is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of oncology nutrition, nutrition in older adults, nutrition screening, and assessment, and has published widely on these subjects. She has led the development of several sets of Australian and international evidence-based guidelines for improved nutrition care. Passionate about improving the care for patients with cancer and their families through evidence-based medical nutrition therapy, Liz is committed to mentoring the next generation of clinician-researchers. She believes that contributions to clinical guidelines will improve nutrition care for patients with cancer and their loved ones. 


Vice-Chair: Egidio G. Del Fabbro, MD. Egidio Del Fabbro is the Palliative Care Endowed Chair and Program Director at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. He also serves as an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine within the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care of the Department of Internal Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine. Egidio’s clinical research focuses on therapeutic interventions for cancer symptoms and opioid-related side effects, and he has been the Principal Investigator of two randomized, placebo-controlled trials for poor appetite and cancer-related fatigue in patients with advanced cancer. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts, and book chapters related to palliative care and symptom management. He is also Editor of the Oxford University textbook, Nutrition and the Cancer Patient, and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Cachexia Sarcopenia and Muscle.

Objective and Goals

The objective of the Study Group is to promote research and state-of-the-art clinical practice in all areas of clinical nutrition as it relates to cancer. The Study Group also aims to increase awareness of guidelines for the appropriate use of nutritional support in cancer patients and to promote appropriate use of palliative and therapeutic strategies in the management of anorexia and weight loss in patients with advanced cancer. The Study Group seeks to develop and coordinate new evidence-based guidelines and to further improve clinical practice by encouraging research in areas where scientific literature is lacking. 

Within this broad purview, areas of focus include new and emerging management strategies and the use of nutrition-based complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Given its multinational nature, the Study Group maintains sensitivity, in all its endeavors, to cultural and economic differences in cancer populations around the world.

This Study Group serves as a resource to other Study Groups and all MASCC members, as well as to the broader research community, with respect to the development of both laboratory research and practice guidelines on clinical nutrition in relation to cancer.


The Study Group has offered, alone or in collaboration with others, five Workshops at MASCC/ISOO Annual Meetings.

  1. Nutritional Care Throughout the Advanced Cancer Journey: The Whole Meal Deal. 2016 Annual Meeting, Adelaide, Australia
  2. Dysphagia Burden of Illness: An Underreported Complication of Treatment. 2015 Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. Nutrition - Cancer Care Pathways. 2014 Annual Meeting, Miami, Florida, USA
  4. Cancer Cachexia and Fatigue in Advanced Cancer Patients. 2013 Annual Meeting, Berlin, Germany
  5. Conducting Clinical Trials with Promising Cancer Cachexia/Anorexia Agents.  2011 Annual Meeting, Athens, Greece 


In February 2019, the Study Group offered a webinar, “The Cachexia Clinic — Building a Supportive Care Necessity.” The webinar, which featured speakers Liz Isenring, PhD, Egidio Del Fabbro, MD, and Rony Dev, MD, was provided information and practical considerations for establishing and operating a cachexia clinic within a cancer center. Topics concerned service and team composition, assessment, management, and outcome measures. Read more about the Webinar.


Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviours of Australia Dietitians Regarding Dietary Supplements: A Cross-Sectional Survey. Members of the Study Group undertook this study, in which 231 Australian dietitians replied to an online survey. The results showed that a majority of respondents were interested in dietary supplements, yet tentative about integrating them into their clinical practice. A primary barrier to doing so was concerns about potential drug-supplement interactions. Nearly 90% of the respondents, however, reported that they were interested in receiving more training about dietary supplements. The study was published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.1  

Nutrition Screening and Assessment: Views, Practices, and Behaviours of Healthcare Professionals Working with Patients in the Cancer Setting. The Study Group has also conducted an online survey on nutrition screening and assessment. The results will be provided at the 2019 MASCC/ISOO meeting and published in Supportive Care in Cancer


Recent publications by members of the Study Group include such topics as cachexia diagnostic criteria, assessment, and management, nutrition and nourishment in patients with advanced cancer, the prevalence of malnutrition and its impact on clinical outcomes in cancer services, and the effectiveness of nutrition telehealth in managing malnutrition. In this issue, we highlight a special issue of the Annals of Palliative Medicine (January 2019), which features papers by several Study Group members. See the Study Group’s Publications page at the MASCC website for more titles.

How to Get Involved

The Study Group leaders are looking for a member to assume the role of social media lead and would like to hear from members interested in helping to plan future Study Group activities. If you would like to become more involved in the work of this Group, please contact Liz Isenring

1Marx W, Kiss N, McKavanagh D, Isenring E. Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviours of Australia Dietitians Regarding Dietary Supplements: A Cross-Sectional Survey. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016 Nov;25:87-91.