In the past few decades, therapeutic advances have evolved considerably, moving the focus from cancer itself to the patient as a whole. This new, holistic approach encompasses all factors that can improve the quality of life. In this changing paradigm, adequate nutrition plays an important role.

Cancer. This one word designates many diseases encompassing more than 100 different types of cancer. Still, they all share one common cause, the fact that abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and acquire the ability to invade other tissues.1 Most types of cancer get their names from the organ (e.g., breast cancer) or cell type in which they start (e.g., melanoma, which is a skin cancer involving cells called “melanocytes”)3.

In 2015, there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths in the US.1

Thanks to the therapeutic achievements of recent decades, such as early identification and improved treatments, today millions of people living with cancer can prolong their lives. In fact, 14.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2014.1 Cancer management has even evolved from a disease-focused treatment to a more holistic approach, centered on the patient as a whole, and not only on the cancer alone. This encompasses healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising, getting enough sleep, not smoking, managing stress and eating a nutritious diet. In fact, good nutritional status may help patients better tolerate cancer treatments and dietary interventions can assist with symptom management.

1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2015

2. Huhmann M, Camporeale J. Supportive care in lung cancer: clinical update. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2012 May;28(2):e1-10.

3. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/HealthProfessional/page4

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15% to 25% of cancer patients are affected by loss of appetite at diagnosis.

Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/HealthProfessional/page1#section_1.3Accessed December 2014.



Regular exercise and eating in a quiet, comfortable environmentmay help improveappetite. Small, high-protein, high-calorie meals every one to two hours may be preferable to the traditional three large meals. Small amounts of food can be prepared in advance and stored making it convenient for the patient to eat when hungry.


Accessed December 2014.



Nausea and vomiting arecommon side effects of cancer treatments.Approaches such as eating before cancer treatments or taking food along with prescribed medications can help overcome some of these side effects.


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Diarrhea can happen as a result of cancer or its treatment.* To prevent dehydration and mineral imbalances, try to drink a variety of fluids. If drinking fluids is not appealing, consider ice pops or gelatin. Talk to your healthcare team about the use of oral rehydration solutions.

Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/HealthProfessional/page4.

Accessed December 2014.