Diet is an essential element in treating cancer. The individual who has cancer must eat right kinds of food before and after treatment. To guarantee that one is eating proper cancer nutrition, one must eat adequate amounts of food and drinks that contain main nutrients (like the right kind of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat, water and carbohydrates). On the other hand, some patients find it hard to eat well due to the side effects of the treatment. The most common symptoms of this are: anorexia, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. Mouth sores, pain and trouble swallowing are also included. Loss of appetite, smell, taste and ability to eat enough food are also affected. As a result of all these is malnutrition (deficiency in key nutrients) among cancer patients. This would make the patient appear tired and weak. This would also make them unable to withstand cancer therapy and resist infections. Inadequate protein and calorie intake is the most common cancer nutrition problem among cancer patients. Protein and calories are vital for fighting infection, healing and providing energy to the patient.
Cachexia and anorexia are the most frequent causes of malnutrition of individuals who have cancer. Cachexia is a wasting syndrome that weakens the patient. Loss of weight, fat and muscles are usually associated with this. Cachexia is common in patients who have cancer in the lungs, upper gastrointestinal tracts and pancreas, and less common in patients with lower gastrointestinal tract or breast cancer. Anorexia or “loss of appetite or desire to eat” is more often a symptom in an individual who has cancer. Anorexia can either occur early or late in the disease or when the tumor spreads. Some patients have anorexia even when they are still diagnosed with cancer. Patients who have a widespread cancer will develop anorexia. It is the most common cause of malnutrition of all cancer patients. Sometimes cachexia and anorexia occur at the same time. Cachexia may transpire in patients who are eating adequately. However the patient can not absorb the nutrients. Cachexia is not related to the extent, type or size of the tumor. In starvation, the body will adjust to the starvation by minimizing the body’s use of nutrients, but in cancer patients, the body can not adjust to the starvation.
Cancer nutrition therapy can help individuals who have cancer obtain the nutrients it needs to retain body weight and strength. Cancer nutrition therapy also prevents the breakdown of the body tissues. It aid in the rebuilding of the tissues in the body and fights infections. Cancer nutrition recommendations for an individual who has cancer help the patient cope with the side effects of cancer, its treatment and malnutrition. A well nourished cancer patient will have a better chance of recovery.