Cancer is becoming an epidemic in our society. Most people have had cancer, know someone who has had cancer, or lost a close friend or relative to cancer. In fact, current statistics from the American Cancer Society indicate that a staggering one out of every two men, and one out of every three women, will experience cancer in his or her lifetime.
One of the biggest problems facing people with cancer is malnutrition. Malnutrition is a serious lack of nutrients directly related to loss of appetite and hydration. Cancer often leads to malnutrition for several reasons. One is due to cancer-related pain, which can decrease anyone’s appetite. In addition, chemotherapy can cause changes in your sense of taste, can lead to mouth and throat sores, or just result in fatigue that hinders your intake of food. Radiation can be a deterrent to appetite as well, causing extreme fatigue and sometimes affecting the mouth, stomach or intestine.
Fatigue during cancer treatment can result from a number of causes: not eating, inactivity, low blood counts, depression, poor sleep, and side effects of medication. If you are suffering from fatigue, here are some possible solutions to help ensure proper nutrition.
A common side effect of chemotherapy is nausea and or vomiting. If this is a major problem for you, you may want to ask your physician for medication to take at night to help relieve some of these symptoms. Here are some helpful hints to help maintain proper nutrition during times of nausea.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If severe diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, you should call your physician. However, if mild diarrhea is a problem for you, here are some possible solutions:
If you have any specific needs or questions, contact your physician. In addition, the registered dietitians at the CARITAS Lifestyle Center can help: our number is (502) 995-3500. Another excellent resource is the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER.
This article was written by Shannon Kraft, R.D., and Tonya Rich, R.D.