Skip to main content


About us - Head and Neck Oncology Dietitians

Specialist dietitians are integral members of the multidisciplinary team providing care to patients with head and neck cancer.  Malnutrition is prevalent at diagnosis and even those well-nourished at baseline will be at high risk of nutritional depletion due to the disease burden and impact of multi-modality treatments.  Nutritional assessment and support throughout the entire patient pathway is critical in order to maintain the nutritional status of patients, in turn optimising treatment tolerance, outcomes and quality of life.

What is the role of the head and neck oncology dietitian?

·         To assess the nutritional status of patients and advise on nutritional management at all stages of the pathway: at diagnosis, during treatment, rehabilitation, survivorship and palliative care.

·         To counsel patients at pre-treatment stage for the short and long-term nutritional impact of planned treatment, including for example, swallow outcomes, in liaison with Speech and Language Therapy colleagues.

·         To advise and support patients and carers on all aspects of dietary management including food fortification, texture modification use of oral nutritional supplements and enteral tube feeding. 

·          To support multi-disciplinary decision-making around enteral tube feeding including assessment of suitability for tube placement and selection of appropriate feeding route and tube type.

·         To advise patients and carers requiring enteral tube feeding in acute and community settings, including the facilitation of safe discharges from hospital to home on enteral tube feeding systems.

·         To provide nutritional advice to those living with and beyond cancer, whether assisting patients to manage the long term consequences of treatment or providing advice on healthy lifestyles.

·         To educate and act as a resource for multidisciplinary colleagues on all aspects of the nutritional management of patients with head and neck cancer.

·         To carry out regular audit, service evaluation and research at local and national level, in order to develop evidence-based practice and guidelines.

·         To contribute to national data collection for head and neck cancer databases e.g. HANA.

Key links:

·         British Dietetic Association (BDA): Key Fact Sheet for Head and Neck Cancer

·         Evidence-based practice guidelines for the nutritional management of adult patients with head and neck cancer (COSA)

·         Nutritional management in head and neck cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines.  The Journal of Laryngology & Otology (2016), 130 (Suppl. S2), S32–S40.