Nutrition During Cancer Treatment

Cancer Treatment and Your Appetite

It is very important that you eat well as you go through your cancer treatments. Both the illness and the treatment will probably affect your appetite, but eating well will help you to obtain the nutrients your body needs to deal with the treatments, fight infection and get you on the road to recovery.

Everyone responds differently to cancer and cancer treatments. You may need extra calories and protein as you go through treatment in order to maintain your weight and fight the disease.

Plan on keeping some nutritious high-protein snacks around that are easy to prepare and will help you get the extra calories you need. You might also try eating small, frequent meals instead of the usual 3 big meals a day. Eat your big meals when you feel hungry; don’t wait for dinner if that’s not the time you feel hungry.

Stock-up on foods you like and can tolerate so you will have things on hand when you feel like eating. Drink most of your fluids between and not at meals so you won’t feel full to eat.

Be sure and talk with someone on your healthcare team before using herbal products or supplements. Some of these products are not safe and may even interfere with your treatments. That includes vitamins and minerals which can be harmful or may reduce the effectiveness of your treatments.

Treatments and Nutrition

Chemotherapy Side Effects

  • Food may taste funny
  • Feeling full even if you haven’t eaten
  • Feeling sick after treatment
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Feeling tired

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

  • Feeling full even if you haven’t eaten
  • Weight loss from not eating enough
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • Feeling overly tired
  • Arm (and sometimes leg) swelling

Updated March 22, 2017