Transforming pediatric cancer research and care through the use of nutrition.
IIPAN is a collaborative network of hospitals, scientists, clinicians, and clinical investigators in Brazil, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, and South Africa, working in nutritional research and clinical care in pediatric cancer centers located in LMICs. IIPAN’s mission is to substantially increase the global success rate of pediatric cancer treatment by improving the education and delivery of clinical nutritional care to children with cancer. IIPAN is revolutionizing the role of nutritional care around the globe with a stated mission of meeting the nutritional needs of children from all backgrounds, by developing a comprehensive database that will standardize nutritional assessments, and implement evidence-driven nutritional interventions. We accomplish this by:
- Sharing scientific data that proves the beneficial impact of utilizing nutrition in the treatment of children in at-risk populations.
- Training of health care professionals in the latest approaches to ensure proper implementation of the nutritional intervention protocol.
The global incidence of malnutrition continues to surge as the number of cancer cases rise. It is estimated that 30% to 85% of children are malnourished at the time of diagnosis. In Africa and India, approximately 30% to 50% of children with cancer are also diagnosed with severe-acute malnutrition at diagnosis. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one third of deaths from cancer are attributed to behavioral and dietary risks: which includes high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity.
There is a clear line of evidence in pediatrics that nutritional status is a modifiable risk factor, and this is more apparent in children with cancer. We know that poor nutritional status slows cancer recovery and decreases the survival while also increasing the abandonment of therapy. We also know that obesity, an increasing clinical challenge worldwide, increases the risk of death by 54% in pediatric leukemia. At the same time, children diagnosed with severe-acute malnutrition concurrently to being diagnosed with cancer demonstrate overt micronutrient deficiencies.
The global nutritional research initiative, launched by IIPAN, has as its central goal to help doctors further increase survival rates for all children with cancer and prevent or erradicate malnutrition altogether. The use of innovative nutrition-based interventions is an essential component of the future of pediatric oncology care and IIPAN is leading the way.