Nutrition Recommendations During Cancer Treatment

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Cancer treatments, although helpful, can have serious effects on the body, and it is important for patients to monitor things like diet and nutrition. Learn more about the ways in which nutrition is regulated during cancer treatment, and identify the specialists involved in treatment. Updated: 11/15/2021


Your car runs on fuel. If you want your car to perform well, you give it high-octane gas. The same can be said for your body. If you want your body to perform well, then you feed it high-octane, or nutrient-rich, foods. Sometimes, even with the best care, our cars and our bodies develop problems. As we nurse them back to health, it's more important than ever to feed them the best fuel available. In this lesson, we will focus on how a person dealing with cancer should feed their body and some of the diet-related obstacles they may face due to their condition.

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  • 0:01 Nutrition
  • 0:48 Obstacles
  • 1:29 Nutrition Recommendations
  • 2:58 Special Considerations
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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It's important for a person who is undergoing cancer treatment to stay physically strong by maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet. However, during treatment, it can be difficult for a person to continue on a healthy eating plan. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which are common medical procedures used in the treatment of cancer, can result in a reduced appetite and weight loss. These treatments can also cause nausea and mouth sores or alter the appeal or taste of certain foods. These side effects make it difficult to take in all the essential nutrients needed for a strong recovery.

Nutrition Recommendations

During cancer treatment, a patient might be referred to a registered dietitian, who is a nutrition expert qualified to design meal plans for patients with medical conditions. This health care professional may work directly with the patient and create diet strategies to help them overcome specific challenges.

While specific needs will vary from patient to patient, there are some general nutrition recommendations during cancer treatment that act as a foundation for most people undergoing treatment. First, it's important that patients maintain a healthy weight. Cancer treatment can lead to weight loss. If a person is underweight, they should take in sufficient calories to keep their weight in a healthy range. If a patient is obese, calorie intake can be adjusted to allow weight loss, but the loss should be controlled so the weight does not come off too rapidly.

It's also important for a cancer patient's diet to include essential nutrients. This means taking in sufficient amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients, which include proteins, fats and carbohydrates, provide the necessary calories to maintain body functions. Micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which are natural chemicals found in plant-based foods, provide additional nutrients for healing and repair.

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