Divisions & Programs

Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation


Dr. Thomas Jagoe: Director, Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation Program, Jewish General Hospital (JGH), 514-340-8222 x 3150

Dr. Antonio Vigano: Director, McGill Nutrition and Performance Laboratory, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), 514-934-1934 x 78716



History of the McGill Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation Program

Anorexia/cachexia which afflicts many cancer patients is characterized by loss of skeletal muscle and body fat resulting in considerable weight loss. In 2002 Dr. Neil MacDonald, an oncologist and palliative care physician in the Department of Oncology, together with physiotherapist, Mary-Ann Dalzell, founded the McGill Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation (CNR) Program. The original team also included two palliative care physicians, an oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers, two nurses, a dietitian and a palliative care researcher. Initially there was only one clinic which was located at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH), but by the end of 2003 a second clinic was added at the Montreal General Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The administrative office of the program was located at the Gerald Bronfman Centre in the McGill Department of Oncology.

The program’s mission was to (i) develop and administer nutritional and rehabilitation programs for cancer patients suffering from poor appetite, malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue and loss of function; (ii) conduct research aimed at understanding the underlying biological reasons why some cancer patients suffer from these symptoms; and iii) educate patients, family caregivers and health professionals in new ways to manage these symptoms.  The program focused on patients with lung or gastrointestinal cancer. The goal was to enhance patient quality of life by improving patient function thus reducing the burden on family and caregivers.

From 2002 the Program underwent a number of changes as additional staff members were added including nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists, psychologists, researchers and coordinators. In 2006 Dr. Martin Chasen was appointed as Clinical Director of the Program and under his direction the MUHC clinic moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital. In 2007 Dr. Thomas Jagoe replaced Dr. MacDonald as the Program Director.

Current Cancer Nutrition and Cancer Rehabilitation Programs at the JGH and MUHC

Currently the JGH and MUHC have separate programs focusing on anorexia/cachexia in cancer patients.

The Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation (CNR) Program clinic at the Segal Cancer Centre of the JGH is under the direction of Dr. Thomas Jagoe.   Patients with any tumour type are seen at the clinic. The CNR team pursues research aimed at improving approaches to optimise nutritional status and functional capacity in cancer cachexia patients.  Recent projects include the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation to assist physical rehabilitation in debilitated patients, a comparison of Qi-Gong and standard exercise training and defining the role of nutrition in promoting weight gain in cancer cachexia.  The CNR team is also engaged in teaching of physiotherapy, kinesiology, dietetics, nursing students and graduate students in Experimental Medicine both via lectures and through elective periods with the CNR team for clinical professionals.

At the Cedars Cancer Centre of the MUHC, the Cancer Rehabilitation Program, which is comprised of supportive, restorative and cachexia streams, is under the umbrella of the Supportive and Palliative Care Division. Dr. Antonio Vigano, a member of the original McGill CNR Program team, is Director of the McGill Nutrition and Performance Laboratory (MNUPAL) located in a facility close to the Cedars Cancer Centre. Drs. Robert Kilgour and Prosanto Chaudhury are Associate Directors of MNUPAL while Dr. Anna Towers runs a Lymphedema Clinic at the site.