Guest Post: The Importance of Proper Nutrition in a Cancer Patient’s Treatment


by Jillian McKee

After a cancer diagnosis, closer attention should be paid to nutrition in order to increase chances of survival. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can wreak havoc on an already weakened body. Maintaining proper nutrition can help combat the side effects of these treatments, help to regain strength, and help to preserve it.

The Advantages
Cancer patients should work with their doctors to ensure that they remain properly nourished. By eating foods rich in the nutrients that treatments deplete from their bodies, patients will have greater chances of feeling better during the course of their illness. They will be able to maintain strength and will be more energetic as a result.

People often experience nausea when undergoing treatments and are unwilling to eat. This can cause a loss of a lot of weight at a time when they cannot afford to do so. By finding good foods that can be tolerated while receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy, avoidance of this common fate of many cancer patients is possible.

Side Effects of Treatment
Good nutrition also has the purpose of minimizing the side effects of treatment. Several of these side effects include:

  • A loss of appetite
  • Sores in the mouth
  • A dry mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Depressive symptoms or anxiety
  • Pain

The reason people should continue eating healthy even when experiencing side effects is because, by not, the immune systems’ ability to fight off the infections is weakened. Good nutrition has the effect of helping people to recover and heal after their surgeries.

Medications for Side Effects
Medical professionals can help patients manage the symptoms experienced so that they can continue to eat a nutritious diet. By discussing any symptoms with their doctors, medication can be prescribed that may lessen the intensity of these symptoms.

The Role of Fats
Ordinarily, medical professionals will advise people to keep their fat intake to a minimum. Fats are actually a very important part of person’s diet and will be even more advantageous to the cancer patient.

Fats are one of the best energy sources the body can have. Fats are where the body stores its energy and they  aid in sending vitamins throughout the blood stream. They also provide a protective layer for the body’s organs, something that patients need when they are in the middle of fighting cancer. Choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and healthy unsaturated fats like coconut oil.

Being Prepared for Difficulties
It’s not too late or too early for patients to concern themselves with their nutritional needs. It’s possible that they may not experience any complications, but it is always best to be prepared for the eventuality that their surgeries and subsequent treatments may cause difficulties. Once they know whether or not they are experiencing side effects, these can be addressed accordingly. Patients can maintain their nutritional needs so they are put in a better position to fight the disease.


Jillian McKee
Complementary Medicine Advocate

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

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