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ASCO Releases Position Statement on Obesity and Cancer

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN
Obesity rates have increased significantly and impact cancer treatment. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued a position statement on October 1, 2014 to describe its multipronged initiative to reduce the impact of obesity on cancer and its treatment.

ASCO’s first priority is to increase awareness and provide education. Obesity-related education is being integrated in ASCO’s Annual Meeting, ASCO’s Cancer Prevention Curriculum, and in a growing number of published articles. Clinicians have an important role in educating the public about the link between obesity and cancer, and resources are available at Cancer.Net. The second priority is to develop practical recommendations, tools, and resources based on available evidence to help clinicians address obesity with their patients. At a minimum, ASCO suggests that every patient’s body mass index (BMI) is calculated and compared to ideal BMIs, and patients are referred to dieticians and nutrition programs when indicated. The third priority is research on the benefits of weight loss and advocating increased funding for research in this area. The final priority is policy and advocacy, including advocating for healthy community and workplace environments, and promoting access to and coverage for obesity screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

ASCO also would like CMS to add obesity to the list of chronic diseases eligible for complex chronic care management services. The authors of the position statement note that obesity is a societal problem and that it will take significant time and effort on the part of many organizations to reduce obesity. However, the position statement presents several suggestions in addressing obesity for clinicians working on the frontline of cancer care. The position statement is located at:
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