Nutrition, Diet and Cancer

Nutrition is vital to everyone's good health-and takes on added importance if a person develops cancer.

Why? Because good nutrition may become compromised during cancer treatment. In some cases the disease itself - such as head and neck or gastrointestinal tumors - interferes with eating. In other instances, the treatment program may decrease the patient's appetite, induce nausea or cause temporary food aversions.

During treatment for cancer, patients often feel powerless-their physicians, for instance, regulate many important aspects of their care, like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Nutrition is one area where the patient can take control. Nutrition counseling provides the support and services patients need to play an active role in helping their body heal.

That's why all pediatric patients who are seen at Lombardi have access to nutritional counseling. All patients diagnosed with cancer are referred by their oncologist to the nutritionist for consult and ongoing services.

Lombardi's clinical dietitians follow adult and pediatric patients and provide individual counseling throughout treatment. Individual counseling helps patients determine what foods are most beneficial and provide optimum nutrition during various cancer treatments. Nutritional guidance is also offered through Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's support and educational groups.

Among the topics our clinical dietitians discuss with patients are:

  • Healthy eating during chemotherapy.
  • Nutritional requirements during various cancer treatments.
  • Provide nutritional recommendations for patients who are either unable to eat or continue to lose weight during treatment.
  • Food preparation and food safety: neutropenic guidelines.
  • Food aversions and what to do to overcome these side effects from treatment regimens.
  • Ways to improve your immune system through diet.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements: what dosages to take, how often and if necessary.
  • Nutrition and its relationship to cancer prevention.
  • Which references provide sound information regarding nutrition and cancer.
  • Alternative nutrition and media fads.

Many patients also request nutritional counseling during recovery, after their active treatment has ended. Often these individuals want to control weight gain or weight loss, and learn if they can lower their cancer risk through proper nutrition. Patients who have undergone extensive cancer treatments often feel they have a new lease on life and want to change their lifestyle to achieve optimal health. The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Nutritional Counseling service is delighted to help minimize the chance of cancer recurrence!

Nutrition is a science that is constantly evolving. At the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are committed to providing our patients with the most recent, clinically effective information available.