Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Optimizing Survivorship

Optimizing survorship

The Institute of Medicine identifies four essential components of cancer survivorship care and recommends that every cancer patient receive an individualized survivorship care plan for monitoring and maintaining health.
A growing number of cancer treatment centers and hospitals are establishing survivorship programs. Sometimes called cancer pre-habilitation (pretreatment care) and rehabilitation programs, these may include pain management, smoking cessation, exercise, and nutrition components. Programs often offer support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy targeting stress management, relaxation training, and coping skills.


Cancer survivors stand to benefit in many ways from a healthful lifestyle. Unfortunately, for some, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t always lead to health-protective changes. In a cross-sectional study of adult cancer survivors, most did meet the recommendation to avoid smoking, but only 30% to 47% met the physical activity recommendation, and about 15% to 19% met the five-a-day minimum vegetable and fruit target.


Dietitians play a vital role in enhancing cancer survivors’ health and quality of life. Assessing survivors’ nutritional status and dietary intake can identify areas in which they’re nutritionally lacking and also areas of potential excess. Guidance can help survivors meet nutritional needs and improve outcomes relevant to cancer, cardiovascular, and bone health. Survivors have wide-ranging needs for help in evaluating information from many sources and making evidence-based behavior changes that support recovery and long-term health, and dietitians can assist them in addressing these needs.

Following a healthy life style can help cancer survivors to thrive by enhancing their immune system and avoiding inflammation.


Weakened Immune Systems III

Cancer and its treatment can weaken your body’s immune system. As a result, your body cannot fight infection well. While your immune system is recovering, you are advised to avoid being exposed to possible infection-causing germs. This is the third blog in this series.

Cook foods well

cooking thermometer

Put a meat thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the food to test for doneness. Test a thermometer’s accuracy by putting it into boiling water. It should read 212° F.

Cook meat until it is no longer pink and the juices run clear. The only way to know for sure that the meat has been cooked to the right temperature is to use a food thermometer. Meats should be cooked to 160° F and poultry to 180° F.

Microwave cooking

Rotate the dish a quarter turn once or twice during cooking if there is no turntable in the microwave oven. This helps prevent cold spots in food where bacteria can survive.

Use a lid or vented plastic wrap to thoroughly heat leftovers. Stir often during reheating.

Grocery shopping

sell by date

Check “sell-by” and “use-by” dates. Pick only the freshest products.

Check the packaging date on fresh meats, poultry, and seafood. Do not buy products that are out of date.

Do not use damaged, swollen, rusted, or deeply dented cans. Be sure that packaged and boxed foods are properly sealed.

Choose unblemished fruits and vegetables.

Do not eat deli foods. In the bakery, avoid unrefrigerated cream- and custard-containing desserts and pastries.

Do not eat foods from self-serve or bulk containers.

Do not eat yogurt and ice cream products from soft-serve machines.

Do not eat free food samples.

Get your frozen and refrigerated foods just before you check out at the grocery store, especially during the summer months.

Refrigerate groceries right away. Never leave food in a hot car.


Weakened immune systems II

Cancer and its treatment can weaken your body’s immune system. As a result, your body cannot fight infection well. While your immune system is recovering, you are advised to avoid being exposed to possible infection-causing germs.

Dining out

Dining Out

Eat early to avoid crowds.

Ask that food be prepared fresh in fast-food restaurants.

Ask for single-serving condiment packages, and avoid self-serve bulk condiment containers.

Do not eat from high-risk food sources, including salad bars, delicatessens, buffets and smorgasbords, potlucks, and sidewalk vendors.

Do not eat raw fruits and vegetables when eating out.

Ask if fruit juices are pasteurized. Avoid “fresh-squeezed” juices in restaurants.

Be sure that utensils are set on a napkin or clean tablecloth or placemat, rather than right on the table.


Ask for a container, and put the food in it yourself rather than having the server take your food to the kitchen to do this, if you want to keep your leftovers.

Do not cross-contaminate

Use a clean knife to cut different foods.

Color coded knives

In the refrigerator, store raw meat sealed and away from ready-to-eat food.

Keep foods separated on the countertops. Use a different cutting board for raw meats.

20261 0017

Clean counters and cutting boards with hot, soapy water, or you can use a fresh solution made of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. Moist disinfecting wipes may be used if they are made for use around food.

When grilling, always use a clean plate for the cooked meat.

Weakened immune systems I

Cancer and its treatment can weaken your body’s immune system. As a result, your body cannot fight infection well. While your immune system is recovering, you are advised to avoid being exposed to possible infection-causing germs.

This will be discussed in 3 blogs, the first deals with food handling, the second will talk about dinning out and cross contamination and in the third blog we will discuss Food shopping, and microwave cooking etc.

Food-handling tips


Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after preparing food and before eating.

Refrigerate foods at or below 40° F.

Keep hot foods hot (warmer than 140° F) and cold food cold (cooler than 40° F).

Thaw meat, fish, or poultry in the microwave or refrigerator in a dish to catch drips. Do not thaw at room temperature.

Use defrosted foods right away, and do not refreeze them.

Put perishable foods in the refrigerator within 2 hours of buying or preparing them. Egg dishes and cream- and mayonnaise-based foods should not be left unrefrigerated for more than an hour.

Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water before peeling or cutting. Do not use soaps, detergents, chlorine bleach solutions, or commercial produce rinses. Using a clean vegetable scrubber, scrub produce that has a thick, rough skin or rind (melons, potatoes, bananas, etc.) or any produce that has dirt on it.

washing_vegetables1Rinse leaves of leafy vegetables one at a time under running water.

Packaged salads, slaw mixes, and other prepared produce, even when marked pre-washed, should be rinsed again under running water; using a colander can make this easier.

Do not eat raw vegetable sprouts.

Throw away fruits and vegetables that are slimy or moldy.

Do not buy produce that has been cut at the grocery store (like melon or cabbage).

Wash tops of canned foods with soap and water before opening.

Use different utensils for stirring foods and tasting them while cooking. Do not taste the food (or allow others to taste it) with any utensil that will be put back into the food.

Throw out foods that look or smell strange. Never taste them!

Do not use cracked or unrefrigerated eggs.