Maximizing nutrition during cancer care

March 7, 2018, Baylor College of Medicine

The physical and emotional tolls chemotherapy can have on a patient undergoing cancer treatment are well known, but there are many myths when it comes to managing fitness and nutrition during treatment.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding chemotherapy is that will lose ," said Rachel Dudley, nutritionist in the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine. "While it is true that some people, such as head and neck patients, will lose weight, treatment for many other cancer types, including breast cancer, are actually more likely to cause weight gain."

The first steps Dudley considers when creating a nutrition plan for a patient are their current nutrient intake and any potential treatment side effects.

"If we notice a patient is gaining weight on , I'll develop a plan centered on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains. If significant weight loss becomes an issue, we will incorporate calorie-rich, nutrient-dense foods, such as fats and protein," Dudley said.

Dudley also advises her clients to treat like medication and set reminders so you know your body is getting what it needs, and adopt a regular exercise routine to maintain strength.

Some variations of chemotherapy can impact the way certain foods taste or cause mouth sores that are sensitive to spicy or acidic foods.

"Many patients say that a certain food that they typically enjoy tastes completely different," explained Dudley. "This happens frequently with , and it may take some trial and error to find out what you enjoy eating. To help ease mouth sores, I usually provide patients with the recipe for a simple mouthwash made from common household ingredients."

Additionally, some patients may experience sensitivity to cold food or drinks following infusion sessions, but Dudley says this typically lasts for a short time and will subside.

"When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it is common for their family and close friends to rally around them in support, oftentimes making meals or helping in other ways," added Dudley. "You want to be sure to gift food items that are high in nutritional value and easy to section into multiple meals, as fatigue is also common."

Explore further: Cancer treatment can affect your food preferences

Related Stories

Cancer treatment can affect your food preferences

September 19, 2017
(HealthDay)—Cancer therapies often change patients' sense of taste, which may affect what they like to eat, according to a nutrition expert.

It's the latest diet craze, but is it safe?

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—What if you could have your cake, eat it, too, and lose weight?

Experimental drug trial seeks to improve treatment for head and neck cancer

November 24, 2017
A trial to test an experimental drug in patients with head and neck cancer launches in the UK today (Friday), through the Combinations Alliance – a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK and the Experimental Cancer ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Are cooling caps the solution to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy?

March 15, 2017
Hair loss—one of the most-feared side effects of cancer treatment—may have met its match. Scientists have known since the 80s that cooling a person's scalp can prevent significant hair loss during chemotherapy. A cooling ...

Tool helping UC cancer institute identify patients at risk for malnutrition

December 30, 2014
A person needs nourishment from food to live and flourish.

Recommended for you

Two ways cancer resists treatment are actually connected, with one activating the other

December 18, 2018
Drugs that target BRAF and MEK in cancer have shown promise in treating a subset of melanoma that carries a mutation in the BRAF gene, but drug resistance usually emerges, reversing the benefit of these drugs and limiting ...

HPV discovery raises hope for new cervical cancer treatments

December 18, 2018
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have made a discovery about human papillomavirus (HPV) that could lead to new treatments for cervical cancer and other cancers caused by the virus.

Vaccine, checkpoint drugs combination shows promise for pancreatic cancers

December 18, 2018
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center discovered a combination of a cancer vaccine with two checkpoint drugs reduced pancreatic cancer tumors in mice, demonstrating a possible pathway for treatment of people ...

Researchers identify ways breast cancer avoids immune system detection

December 18, 2018
Recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy are making a huge difference in treating some forms of cancer, especially metastatic cancer. But breast cancer has proven a tricky foe for this new therapy, and an interdisciplinary team ...

Metal chemotherapy drugs boost the impact of immunotherapy in cancer

December 18, 2018
Due to their powerful tumour-killing effect, metal-based chemotherapies are frequently used in cancer treatment. However, it was hitherto assumed that they damaged the immune system, because of their cytotoxic (cell-damaging) ...

10-year follow-up after negative colonoscopies linked to lower colorectal cancer risk

December 17, 2018
Ten years after a negative colonoscopy, Kaiser Permanente members had 46 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with and were 88 percent less likely to die from colorectal cancer compared with those who did not undergo colorectal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.