For many types of cancer, high quality surgery is the only cure. This is particularly true in low-income countries where treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy may not be available.
Malnutrition is a major public health issue in LMICs, with as many as two-thirds of hospitalised adults being malnourished. Cancer often causes extreme weight loss and, in many countries, this occurs on top of pre-existing malnutrition. Malnutrition is associated with higher post-operative mortality and morbidity, including longer length of inpatient stay and increased healthcare-associated costs.
It has been demonstrated that perioperative nutrition in patients undergoing gastrointestinal cancer surgery can halve postoperative complications, reduce post-operative stay and significantly impact on surgery-associated mortality. Nutritional supplementation provided at the time of surgery in LMICs could provide a low cost and sustainable intervention, requiring minimal specialist training and equipment to administer.
GlobalSurg 3 is providing data that will allow us to establish the relationship between malnutrition and surgical outcomes in a way that hasn’t been possible previously, but to find a solution to the problem we need a large scale trial testing nutritional interventions prior to surgery.