Coming together to meet the needs of people affected by cancer

04 October 2017 | Science and research

Prof Wiseman is World Cancer Research Fund's Medical and Scientific Adviser. He is one of the country’s leading experts on cancer and its links to diet, weight and physical activity.

Since 2014, World Cancer Research Fund has been central to establishing a collaboration between patients, researchers and clinicians working in nutrition and cancer, under the auspices of the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

This collaboration has just published a report of phase two of its programme, so now seemed like an opportune time to sum up what we have learnt so far and what the plans are for the future.

Information gathering

A scoping activity in the first phase made clear that people affected by cancer want sound nutritional advice throughout their cancer journey, but that their experience is far from that. Many patients reported receiving inconsistent and sometimes conflicting advice, and some reported receiving none at all.

Further survey work by the collaboration showed that clinicians often have not had any nutritional training and are frequently unaware of evidence-informed guidance to share with their patients.

In fact, although it is clear that nutritional factors are important predictors of outcome in people with cancer, there is a dearth of high-quality evidence to support robust advice to patients.

Setting up structures to support the work

Over the last year, the collaboration worked with interested cancer charities including World Cancer Research Fund to develop a web-based portal to help make evidence-informed nutrition advice simple to access for patients and for clinicians.

The aim of this portal is to make the best evidence and advice about nutrition and cancer easier to find.

Collaborative research programmes

The cancer and nutrition collaboration now aims to build on these activities by developing collaborative research projects to meet the needs of people affected by cancer, and of their clinicians.

Several NIHR-funded research bodies, known as Biomedical Research Centres, that have interests in nutrition or cancer are coming together to develop a comprehensive research programme with the aim of improving patient care by filling the evidence gaps on how nutrition influences the development of cancer, the response to treatment and long-term outcomes for people.


For more information on the NIHR Infrastructure Collaboration, visit 

World Cancer Research Fund has information for people living with cancer about how to eat healthily and cope with the side-effects of treatment. You can also order a free copy of the new Eat Well During Cancer booklet.

Prof Martin Wiseman | 04 October 2017