The word “Cancer” was coined
from the Greek word for crab; Karkinos, by the renowned father of Medicine;
Hippocrates. A school of thought postulated that the disease was so named
because it mimics the shape and texture of a crab when it proliferates around
the cells of the body. Another school of thought posits that the father of
Medicine chose the name because the tumors caused by cancers ache badly like a
Cancer is a debilitating
condition that causes abnormal growth of cells which usually spreads to
different parts of the body, there are over 100 kinds of cancers known to
affect the human race.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CANCER
There is a wide range of signs
and symptoms to pinpoint the presence of a cancerous malignant tumor, these
- Increased episodes
- Weight loss
- Altered bowel
RISK FACTORS THAT CAUSE CANCERS
One unsettling fact about
these life-limiting diseases is that they stem from the way you live. Virtually
all the risk factors that predispose individuals to cancer are modifiable. This
means that by making some changes to your lifestyle habits you may cut down
your risk of developing a malignant tumor. Only about 8% of persons develop
cancers because of genetics.
These are the risk factors
that predispose individuals to cancers;
- Tobacco inhalation
- Poor dietary
- Excess consumption
DIETARY AND NUTRITIONAL APPROACHES FOR CANCER PATIENTS
The modification of diets and nutritional
intakes for cancer patients is geared towards managing symptoms and reversing
any reaction that may stem from cancer treatment. The importance of an adequate
diet for cancer patients cannot be overemphasized.
It is vital for patients to
imbibe healthy eating patterns during and post-treatment. To achieve the goal
of having a cancer’s patients nutritional needs met, a dietitian/nutritionist
should be a part of the healthcare personnel.
Cancer treatments like
chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and surgical procedures can cause
depletion of nutrient stores which can lead to severe malnutrition. Such
treatments affect the sense of smell, taste and even appetite, when this occurs
the affected person will experience fatigue or malaise.
One major reason why cancer
patients become malnourished is because they develop anorexia either at the
early or later stage. Another factor that causes malabsorption of nutrients
during cancer is Cachexia. Cachexia causes muscle wasting, fat, weight loss and
In some cases where the head
and neck or the organs of the gastrointestinal system is compromised during
treatment routines, it will be a tad difficult to maintain good health.
DIETARY MODIFICATION FOR SIDE
EFFECTS OF DRUGS AT EARLY STAGES
When the treatment options for
cancer interrupts the absorption of nutrients, it is advisable to modify the
nutrient intakes of the patients. It is pivotal to eat foods that have an
abundance of vitamins, minerals and proteins.
- Consume foods that
are high in calories, vitamins and proteins to balance any deficit. Such foods
include chicken, fish, meat, and eggs. Sources of vitamin rich foods like
orange, lemon, apples and pineapple should be added to the diets.
- High protein meals
should be consumed when the appetite is strong and it will be beneficial to eat
small portions of food instead of large meals.
- Eat meals that
look and smell good, the dietitian should ensure that the meals should look
- Blend fruits like
bananas, apples or pawpaw to form smoothies or juices if you have any difficulty
If a cancer patient suffers
from nausea, it is important to modify the patient’s diets to meet nutrient
requirements. This can be done by;
- Choosing foods
that appeal to the patient, avoid forcing the patient to eat foods that make
them nauseous. Also, reduce the way the patient consumes his/her favorite meals
to prevent the patient from feeling disgusted at the sight of the meals in the
- Patients should be
given soft and bland diets that will permit rest to the colon instead of
loading their systems with large meals that can cause changes in bowel
- For patients with
nausea, dry foods like crackers and toasts should be a part of their diets.
- Hard candies like lemon
drops and peppermints can help ease the feeling of being nauseated.
- Eat small meals at
intervals, the meals should have an adequate source of protein, carbs, and a
piece of fruit.
Vomiting causes loss of
nutrients and electrolytes in cancer patients. These are the best dietary
recommendations for cancer patients that suffer from vomiting;
- Consume about 5-6
small meals in a day that have balanced sources of protein, carbohydrates,
fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating meals that are large.
- Drink fruit juices
gotten from oranges, lemon, grapefruits and pineapples. Protein milkshakes can
also be taken to replenish nutrients lost through vomiting.
- Foods should be
cooked via low-fat means like steaming and broiling.
Cancer patients usually
experience dryness in their mouths and this can cause them to get turned off by
food. To alleviate this, do the following;
- Consume foods that
are easy to chew and swallow
- Cut fruits and
other food items into tiny bits before chewing.
- Sip little amounts
of fluids like water, fruit juices, smoothies made of fruits and milkshakes
throughout the day. Tart drinks like lemonade helps to increase the secretion
- Avoid foods that
are too sour, spicy, crunchy or salty. Moderation is key.
CHANGES IN THE TASTE BUDS
To help ease the changes
caused by the taste buds as a result of cancer or its treatment, it is
necessary to do the following;
- Replace red meat
with healthier protein sources like fish, poultry, eggs and cheese. Plant
proteins can also be eaten every other day.
- Try foods that
have tart tastes, some of these include oranges, grapes, lemon, lime and sour
- Eat your favorite
- Try new foods that
you have never tried before.
- Eat foods that you
- Consume foods that
are well-cooked and tender to facilitate chewing and swallowing.
- Consume foods that
are rich in calories and proteins.
- Avoid hot foods,
spicy foods/drinks, crunchy foods or alcoholic beverages.
- Use a food
processor or a blender to blend food till it is smooth.
The above dietary and
nutritional approaches may help patients battling with cancer at its early
stage. When combined with a healthy lifestyle these dietary measures will help
stop the disease from progressing.
DIET AND NUTRITION THERAPY FOR CANCER PATIENTS