Nutrition’s Importance During Cancer Treatment

From an article by
Courtney Moore
McLeod Outpatient Oncology Registered Dietician

Good nutrition is an important part of feeling well and maintaining a healthy weight for cancer patients.

“During cancer treatment, good nutrition can improve your ability to tolerate treatment and avoid unintended treatment delays or breaks, as well as minimize side effects that may impair your ability to enjoy regular meals,” explains Courtney Moore, McLeod Outpatient Oncology Registered Dietitian.

Each individual’s nutritional needs varies. Generally, nutrition recommendations encourage a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and low-fat dairy. While a healthy individual is able to eat enough to obtain the calories and protein their body needs on a daily basis, cancer treatment can change your ability to do this easily.

Certain cancer treatments can also affect the way your body tolerates some foods or uses nutrients. Additionally, treatment side effects may cause fatigue, poor appetite, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, pain/difficulty swallowing, and painful mouth sores. These symptoms are dependent on the type and targeted location of the therapy. Side effects can also increase your risk for nutrient deficiencies or malnutrition.

If this occurs, you are more susceptible to treatment-related toxicities, infection, inflammation, lower quality of life and hospitalization.

While receiving cancer treatment — chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or surgery — the primary focus during treatment should be to consume adequate calories, protein and fluid to maintain a stable weight. Current evidence supports consuming a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods, maintaining a healthy body weight and participating in regular physical activity as the best methods for cancer prevention and staying your healthiest during treatment.

An Oncology Registered Dietitian can support you throughout your cancer journey with cancer to maximize your nutrition through individualized plans developed with evidenced-based research.

Services are available to patients with a current or previous cancer diagnosis and are actively followed by an oncologist at McLeod Regional Medical Center. To contact an Oncology Registered Dietician, ask your Oncologist for a referral or call 843-777-5931 for an appointment.

Sources include: McLeod Health, Clinical Health Journal