Educational Materials and Resources Offered at Oncology Rehab and Wellness can Include:
Why Is Nutrition Important for Cancer Patients?
According to the National Cancer Institute:
Cancer and cancer treatments may cause side effects that affect nutrition.
For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. Cancer treatments that affect nutrition include:
Cancer and cancer treatments may cause malnutrition.
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, which is a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients. Alcohol abuse and obesity may increase the risk of malnutrition.
Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to fight infection or finish cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads.
Eating the right amount of protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection, and having enough energy.
Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients.
Anorexia is the loss of appetite or desire to eat. It is a common symptom in patients with cancer. Anorexia may occur early in the disease or later, if the cancer grows or spreads. Some patients already have anorexia when they are diagnosed with cancer. Most patients who have advanced cancer will have anorexia. Anorexia is the most common cause of malnutrition in cancer patients.
Cachexia is a condition marked by weakness, weight loss, and fat and muscle loss. It is common in patients with tumors that affect eating and digestion. It can occur in cancer patients who are eating well, but are not storing fat and muscle because of tumor growth.
Some tumors 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, intestines, or head and neck. A patient may seem to be eating enough, but the body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food.
Cancer patients may have anorexia and cachexia at the same time.
Counseling and diet changes are made to improve the patient’s nutrition.
A registered dietitian can work with patients and their families to counsel them on ways to improve the patient's nutrition. The registered dietitian gives care based on the patient's nutrition and diet needs. Changes to the diet are made to help decrease symptoms from cancer or cancer treatment. These changes may be in the types and amount of food, how often a patient eats, and how food is eaten (for example, at a certain temperature or taken with a straw).
A registered dietitian works with other members of the healthcare team to check the patient's nutritional health during cancer treatment and recovery. In addition to the dietitian, the healthcare team may include the following: