Proper nutrition during cancer treatment is essential for maintaining good health and minimising the side effects of radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatments. Proper nutrition before, during and after treatment helps to improve the patient’s well-being and increases their level of resistance during treatment.
At Amethyst Radiotherapy Centres, our doctors offer personalised assistance in choosing the right diet: they will recommend a personalised diet plan both during and after treatment. Our doctors place a strong emphasis on nutrition in the fight against cancer, with attention paid to maintaining a strong immune system while managing side effects as well as possible.
Substantial weight loss and poor nutritional status occur in more than 50% of cancer patients from the time of diagnosis. It is imperative to prevent weight loss, especially for patients at risk of unintentional weight loss, already malnourished patients and those receiving various treatments for the gastrointestinal tract. Additional weight loss can affect quality of life and interfere with treatment management, delay recovery or healing, or increase the risk of complications.
Side effects of treatment can interfere with eating and cause weight loss. Below you see dietary solutions for possible side effects of cancer treatment.
During cancer treatment you may need to make certain dietary changes, depending on the changes in your digestive tract.
If you have had a colostomy or ileostomy, you can read about the dietary changes you need here:
If you have had a gastrectomy, i.e. a partial or total cut of your stomach, here you can read about food problems that can occur and solutions to these problems
If you have had a gastrostomy tube fitted, here you can see how to use it and how to administer food through it:
What do you need to know about nutrition during cancer treatment?
Low protein and low calorie diets are the most common problem encountered in cancer patients. Protein and calories are very important for healing, fighting infection and providing energy.
Adequate protein intake is essential during all stages of cancer treatment and long-term survival.
Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, foods that are rich in essential nutrients, phytonutrients, fibre, vitamins, minerals. Sweets such as desserts, commercial juices are not recommended as they are high in carbohydrates and very low in nutrients.
Fats and oils are an important source of energy for the body. They provide 2 times more calories/gram than carbohydrates and are used to store energy and carry some vitamins in the blood.
A balanced diet can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals in the diet, but is quite difficult to achieve in cancer patients. Common side effects of treatment (nausea, vomiting, mucositis or mouth sores) can make it difficult to eat, and some cytostatics decrease levels of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and other micronutrients. In conclusion, vitamin and mineral supplements are allowed, but they should not replace adequate caloric intake and protein requirements and you should definitely discuss with your doctor before taking them, as they may interact with cancer treatment.
Water is necessary for all the body’s cells to function. If the patient does not consume enough fluids or loses them through vomiting or diarrhoea, dehydration can occur, with adverse consequences for the body.
It is ideal for the cancer patient to have a balanced, varied diet with foods from all 5 basic groups. Sometimes this can be extremely difficult during treatment, as deviations from these dietary principles are allowed. The cancer patient may have good days and bad days during the course of the disease, on bad days they are encouraged to eat what they can and when they can, and on good days they try a balanced diet.