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Nutritional Tips During Chemotherapy

Below are some symptoms that you may experience during chemotherapy and how you can manage them to achieve a good diet after each cycle of chemotherapy.

Please contact a dietitian if your treatment symptoms/side-effects persist and you are unable to tolerate normal food and fluid or if you require nutrition support. 

Loss of Appetite (Anorexia)
Loss of appetite is very common during cancer treatment. It could be caused by the cancer progression itself, or the prescribed chemotherapy. If chemotherapy is the cause of your loss of appetite, it will likely be reverted after the treatment.

The severity of this side effect depends on the mode of treatment and also the cancer type.

It is always important to try eating well during your cancer treatment.

Diet tips:

Nausea and Vomiting
Almost more than half of the patients on chemotherapy will experience nausea and vomiting. Usually, your oncologist would prescribe medications (anti-emetics) to prevent these symptoms. It is very important for patients to understand that even when the symptoms have subsided you should still continue to take these medications to prevent a recurrence.

Other than that, there are also some dietary tips to manage your symptoms better.

Diet tips:

Avoid:


Diarrhea 
During the chemotherapy, patients’ bowel movements may sometimes be affected. If you suffer from serious diarrhea, your doctor will likely prescribe anti-diarrheal medicine for you. There are also some tips on diet to help you manage the symptoms better.

Diet tips:

Avoid:


Constipation

Constipation is a very common problem for cancer patients. If you have unusual bowel movement, it could possibly due to the lack of water or fibre in the diet, a lack of physical activity, or anti-cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, and consumption of medications. Do let your doctor know and there will be some medications that could be prescribed for you to help relieve the problem. 

Diet tips:

 
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Diet tips:

Mouth care:


Mouth Sores (Stomatitis)
Mouth sores may become infected and bleed, making eating difficult. By choosing certain foods and taking good care of your mouth, you can eat easier. 

Diet tips:

Taste Changes
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often complain of changes in their sense of taste, in particular a bitter taste sensation. A sudden dislike for certain foods may occur.

Diet tips:

Low White Blood Cell Count (Neutropenia)
Patients who have a low white blood cell count are at an increased risk of infection.

The following suggestions may help in preventing infections when white blood cells counts are low:

Eating by mouth is the preferred method whenever possible, but some patients may not be able to take any or enough food through oral means due to complications from cancer or cancer treatment. You may suffer from appetite changes, mucositis, fatigue, pain and fever both during and after treatment. Good nutrition is vital to help you overcome chemotherapy side-effects, maintain an adequate diet and energy level and improve your general well-being.

Please contact a dietitian if your treatment symptoms/side-effects persist and you are unable to tolerate normal food and fluid or if you require nutrition support.