Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

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Help during Cancer Treatment

It is good to recognize the importance of eating well during cancer treatment. Eating well helps support you during treatment and helps you complete treatment on schedule.

General answers are often simply not adequate to address the full scope of the many concerns that are unique to your situation. That is why it is helpful to seek out the Registered Dietitian (RD) on staff at your cancer center/clinic. Many cancer centers employ RDs who are Certified Specialists in Oncology nutrition (CSO). They are educated to thoroughly review your medical information, discuss the particulars of your case with all appropriate members of your health care team, make an individualized nutritional plan specific to your needs, abilities, and desires, and then follow you with both encouragement and refinements in the recommendations as the situation changes.
Be pro-active about asking for an appointment with an RD. Do not wait until your symptoms cause eating problems or you have lost weight.
If your cancer center does not have an RD on staff or if you need to wait weeks to receive pro-active, in-depth, individualized nutritional care within a reasonable time-frame, try the following steps:

  1. Look in your phone book for a Registered Dietitian (RD) in private practice – they can either be listed under Dietitians or Nutritionists.
  2. Call the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) at 1-800-877-1600 or use the Academy’s website to find a local Registered Dietitian in private practice. Click on the link “Find a Registered Dietitian.”
  3. Call the American Institute for Cancer Research (1-800-843-8114) and ask to speak to one of their Registered Dietitians for general information. The Cancer Resource, their on-line resource for cancer patients and survivors can be ordered from them, or accessed on-line.
  4. Read the book “Eating Hints: Before, During and After Cancer Treatment” by The National Cancer Institute. It is available free of charge by calling 1-800-4-CANCER. Your cancer center may have a free copy to give you, or read online the entire text.
  5. Read the book “Nutrition for the Person with Cancer During Treatment” by the American Cancer Society (ACS). Call 1-800-227-2345 to request a free copy or download it on their website
  6. Call “Dietitian on Call”, a service provided by the ACS where you may speak to a registered dietitian specializing in oncology for free nutrition counseling. Call 1-800-227-2345.
  7. You can always ask your questions on this blog