Eating well during cancer treatment

Nutrition is important during treatment and recovery from cancer therapy.  Cancer and cancer treatments can affect the way your body tolerates certain foods and uses nutrients.  Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger.  The nutrient needs of people with cancer vary from person to person.  Your cancer care team can help you identify your nutrition goals and plan ways to help you meet them.  Eating well while you are being treated for cancer might help you:

  • maintain your current body weight and prevent muscle loss
  • improve your body's immune system so you can fight infections more easily
  • improve recovery time from treatment and help wounds and damaged tissue heal better
  • tolerate cancer treatment and its side-effects
  • improve your feeling of overall well-being

How cancer treatment affects eating

The common ways to treat cancer include:

  • chemotherapy - medications are used to cure or control cancer
  • radiotherapy - x-rays and gamma rays are used to cure or control cancer
  • surgery - cancer is removed during an operation

Cancer treatment often damages normal healthy cells at the same time as killing cancer cells.  This may produce side effects than can affect eating, such as:

Side effects vary depending on the type or treatment and also from person to person.  Most side effects are temporary and go away after treatment ends.  A Dietitian can help provide individualised dietary strategies to help improve your nutrition during treatment.

The Cancer Council is an excellent resource providing some helpful tips around good nutrition during cancer treatment.  The link below will take you there.