Nutrition is vital to everyone's good health. It takes on added importance when a person develops cancer.

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.

All patients who are seen at Georgetown Lombardi/MedStar Georgetown University Hospital have access to nutritional counseling. Patients can request this service at any time, or they may be referred by a multidisciplinary team who reviews patient nutritional status and screens those at nutritional risk.

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. 

Among the topics our clinical dietitians discuss with patients are:

  • Healthy eating during chemotherapy
  • Nutritional requirements during various cancer treatments including but not limited to:
    • Nutrition and breast cancer
    • Nutrition and colon, prostate, ovarian and lung cancers
  • 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.