Good nutrition is important for cancer patients
Nutrition is a process in which food is taken in and used by the body for growth, to keep the body healthy, and to replace tissue. Good nutrition is important for good health. Eating the right kind of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment can help the patient feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have the important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat and water) the body needs.
Healthy eating habits are important during cancer treatment
Nutrition therapy is used to help cancer patients get the nutrients they need to keep up their body weight and strength, keep body tissue healthy and fight infection. Eating habits that are good for cancer patients can be very different from the usual healthy eating guidelines.
Healthy eating habits and good nutrition can help patients deal with the effects of cancer and its treatment. Some cancer treatments work better when the patient is well nourished and gets enough calories and protein in the diet. Patients who are well nourished may have a better prognosis (chance of recovery) and quality of life.
Cancer can change the way the body uses food
Some tumors make chemicals that change the way the body uses certain nutrients. The body’s use of protein, carbohydrates, and fat may be affected, especially by tumors of the stomach or intestines. A patient may seem to be eating enough, but the body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food.
Cancer and cancer treatments may affect nutrition
For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. Cancer treatments that affect nutrition include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Stem Cell Transplant
When the head, neck, esophagus, stomach or intestines are affected by the cancer treatment, it is very hard to take in enough nutrients to stay healthy.
Surgery and Nutrition
The body needs extra energy and nutrients to heal wounds, fight infection and recover from surgery. If the patient is malnourished before surgery, it may cause problems during recovery, such as poor healing or infection. For these patients, nutrition care may begin before surgery.
More than half of cancer patients are treated with surgery. Surgery that removes all or part of certain organs can affect a patient’s ability to eat and digest food.
Nutrition therapy can relieve or decrease the side effects of surgery and help cancer patients get the nutrients they need. Examples of nutritional therapy for surgery patients include: nutritional supplements, enteral nutrition (feeding liquid through a tube into the stomach or intestines), parenteral nutrition (feeding through a catheter into the bloodstream) and medication to increase appetite.
It is also important to follow these tips after surgery:
- Stay away from carbonated drinks and foods that cause gas.
- Increase calories by frying foods and using gravies, mayonnaise and salad dressings.
- Choose high-protein and high-calorie foods to increase energy and help wounds heal.
- If constipation is a problem, increase fiber by small amounts and drink lots of water.
Chemotherapy and Nutrition
Chemotherapy affects fast-growing cells and is used to treat cancer because cancer cells grow and divide quickly. Healthy cells that normally grow and divide quickly may also be killed.
Radiation Therapy and Nutrition
Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells and healthy cells in a treatment area. The amount of damage depends on the part of the body that is treated and the total dose of radiation and how it is given.
Biologic Therapy and Nutrition
The side effects of biologic therapy are different for each patient and each type of biologic agent. The side effects of biologic therapy can cause weight loss and malnutrition if they are not treated. Nutrition therapy can help patients receiving biologic therapy get the nutrients they need to get through treatment, prevent weight loss and maintain general health.
Stem Cell Transplant and Nutrition
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and medicines used for a stem cell transplant may cause side effects that keep a patient from eating or digesting food as usual.
Side Effects of Cancer Treatments
The side effects of all of the above cancer treatments that can affect eating include:
- Anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Taste changes
- Mouth sores
- Dry mouth
- Trouble swallowing
Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition (a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients). Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired and unable to fight infections or get through cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Eating too little protein and calories is a very common problem for cancer patients. Having enough protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection and having enough energy.
Customize an Individual Nutrition Plan
If you or a loved one is evaluating your cancer treatment options, make sure to choose a cancer specialist that can customize an individual nutrition plan for you. It is important to choose a physician that will work with you during all phases of your treatment and is accessible at all times.
Exceptional Expertise in Treatment of Cancer
Dr. Suneeta Pinnamaneni of Hematology & Oncology Consultants of Florida is a board-certified cancer specialist with exceptional expertise in treating breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer.
- Same day appointments available
- Personalized cancer care including an in-house infusion
- Accepts most major insurances
- Affliated with The Villages Regional Medical Center, Leesburg Regional Medical Center and Florida Waterman Hospital.
Hematology & Oncology Consultants of Florida
TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU:
1950 Laurel Manor Drive, Bldg. 210, The Villages, Fl. 32162
2146 Vindale Road, Tavares, Fl. 32778