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Nutrition and diet are important parts of cancer treatment. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help patients feel better and stay stronger. To ensure proper nutrition, a patient has to eat and drink enough of the foods that contain key nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water). For many patients, however, some side effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it difficult to eat well. Symptoms that interfere with eating include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, mouth sores, trouble with swallowing, pain, depression, and anxiety. Appetite, taste, smell, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food may be affected. Malnutrition (lack of key nutrients) can result, causing the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to resist infections or withstand cancer therapies. Eating too little protein and calories is the most common nutrition problem facing many cancer patients. Protein and calories are important for healing, fighting infection, and providing energy. Meeting with a licensed registered dietitian will help patients develop a meal plan which provides the most nutrition, calories and protein necessary for dealing with cancer and treatments.

Nutrition support, also known as artificial feeding, tube feeding, or parenteral nutrition, is for people who can not get enough nutrition from eating or drinking. This typically occurs if a patient has trouble swallowing, problems with appetite or malnourishment, or can not absorb nutrients from the digestive system. Nutritional formulas are delivered through a vein or tube into the stomach or intestine. There are various formulas designed to meet specific patient needs. A licensed registered dietitian can help determine which formula is appropriate, amount needed daily, fluid needs, and help troubleshoot other feeding issues such as diarrhea or constipation.

 

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