Intake of dietary fiber and saturated fatty acids (SFAs) may affect clinical outcomes for patients receiving immunotherapy. These findings were presented in a European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) session at the European Society for Molecular Oncology (ESMO) Congress.

Immunotherapy has changed the treatment landscape in oncology, prolonging survival in many types of cancers. Efficacy of immunotherapy has been associated with the microbiome, which can be affected by dietary intake.

To evaluate the role of diet in immunotherapy outcomes, 102 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving immunotherapy participated an interview conducted by a research nurse that evaluated food frequency and intake of 30 nutrients.

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The mean age of the study participants was 67.5 years at first treatment, 51.4% were women, and 69.5% were former smokers.

In general, positive immunotherapy response was associated with intake of fruits, rice, beans, legumes, eggs, and coffee, whereas a negative response was associated with protein drinks, white breaded fish, and tea.

The investigators observed that consumption of sufficient quantities of dietary fiber was associated with improved survival compared with insufficient fiber (P =.042) and that a diet high in SFAs associated with improved progression-free survival (P =.03).

This study found that dietary habits may affect the efficacy of immunotherapy for advanced NSCLC. Patients who had a diet rich in fiber and high in SFAs were associated with more favorable outcomes. Julie Malo, CCRP, of CHUM Research Center in Canada and presenter of the study concluded, “I strongly believe that the emergence of the gut microbiome in the field of immuno-oncology may provide evidence-based dietary recommendation and educational tools for nurses as an important strategy to potentially increase immunotherapy efficacy.”


Malo J, Benlaïfaoui M, Diop K, et al. Impact of diet on immune checkpoint blockade: nurse-directed dietary intervention. Ann Oncol. 2022;33(suppl_7):S812-S814. doi:10.1016/annonc/annonc1042

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor