Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of nutritional support interventions for adults with squamous cell head and neck cancer receiving radiotherapy or concurrent chemotherapy as a component of definitive treatment were eligible for inclusion. Systematic reviews and guidelines were also eligible. Studies of interventions aimed at prophylaxis of acute mucositis, perioperative interventions, or nutritional interventions in a palliative setting, were excluded. Relevant outcomes included weight loss, nutritional status, quality of life, and adverse events.
In the included trials, the mean age of patients ranged from 49 to 66 years; most were male (range 58 to 85%, where reported). The interventions studied were dietary counselling and/or nutritional supplements, drugs, or prophylactic tube feeding. Over 95% of patients received radiotherapy without concurrent chemotherapy. The drug trials were placebo-controlled. Regular diets were also commonly used as a comparator. Trial durations ranged from six to 12 weeks.
Two reviewers selected studies, with discrepancies resolved by consensus.