CARE Clinic: Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation Clinic
The Pain & Supportive Care Program at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Program at Pennsylvania Hospital has developed a Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation (CARE) Clinic. The purpose of this clinic is to reduce the effects of cancer cachexia and improve nutrition, function, symptom management, and quality of life of cancer patients.
Cancer cachexia is a medical condition which includes weight loss, lack of appetite and loss of fat and muscle tissue. This may cause fatigue and more delay in treatment. In the past, cachexia was seen as an inevitable part of the disease process, but now early identification and prompt intervention may lead to an improvement in the patient’s quality of life.
Cancer patients may consider attending the CARE Clinic, if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Involuntary weight loss
- Increasing fatigue
- Difficulty with function and activities of daily living
- Experiencing difficult or painful swallowing
The goals of the CARE Clinic are:
- To prevent or reverse weight loss in cancer patients when possible.
- To provide strategies to improve both speech and oral nutrition.
- To improve cancer-related fatigue and function.
- To improve quality of life of cancer patients by managing physical, emotional, social and spiritual symptoms.
- To facilitate enrollment in clinical trials for cancer cachexia.
Pain and Symptom Management
The pain and symptom management consultation includes a thorough assessment done by our symptom management experts followed by treatment recommendations. Symptoms may include pain, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, constipation and fatigue among others.
Patients meet with a registered dietitian to discuss nutritional problems, such as loss of appetite, food aversions, gastrointestinal side effects from chemotherapy or radiation or the need for food texture modification. In the CARE clinic the registered dietitian will assess the patient’s baseline nutritional status, muscle mass, and calorie expenditure through specialized tools. An individualized plan is developed to maintain an optimal nutritional status throughout treatment.
Speech and Swallowing Therapy
A speech-swallowing therapist provides strategies to improve swallowing function and pleasurable intake of nutrition, and communication skills including articulation therapy, voice therapy and non-verbal communication.
A physical therapist uses exercise and physical activities to help condition the muscles and restore strength and movement. The physical therapist performs a comprehensive assessment and develops a personalized exercise program to meet the patient’s individual needs. Physical therapy can help to improve an individual’s endurance for daily activities, improve muscle tone and respiratory capacity, and reduce the effects of cancer-related fatigue.