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.