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Nutrition is an important part of life, cancer treatment, recovery, and prevention. Food is one of the few things you can be in control of during your treatment. The oncology certified registered dietitians at the Stanford Cancer Center are here to help you make informed choices about nutrition, answer your nutrition-related questions, and help you to achieve and maintain good health.
It is very important to maintain proper nutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment. Such treatments may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological immunotherapy, and/or surgery. These procedures and medications can cause many individuals to lose their appetite and energy, putting them at an increased risk for malnutrition.
Your food choices when you have cancer and are undergoing treatment may be very different from what you are used to eating. The main goal is to try to keep your weight constant. In order to minimize weight changes, heal properly, and maintain the energy to cope with all the new challenges treatment may bring, you should try to eat a wide variety of high-calorie and high-protein foods, including the following:
Milk, cream, and cheese
Sauces and gravies
Butter, margarine, and oil
Sometimes, the dietary recommendations you receive from your nutritionist may sound like the opposite of a healthy diet. Your care team may encourage you to follow a high-calorie, high-protein diet, especially if you are feeling weak or are underweight. Although you may not feel well or may not feel like eating, proper attention to nutrition can assist in an easier recovery.
Beating cancer with nutrition
Read our nutrition guides written for specific cancers to better understand how you can reduce certain risk factors for cancer.
Careful food choices will help support your immune system's fight against cancer. The foods you choose to eat during active cancer treatment will vary according to any side effects you may be experiencing. Learn how to manage side effects with nutrition.
View our nutrition guides to learn more about what to eat during cancer treatment.
Overall, try to make food choices that provide you enough calories (to maintain your weight), protein (to help rebuild tissues that cancer treatment may harm), nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and fluids (essential for your body's functioning). Also, excercise can help with appetite and digestion issues related to treatment.
Make an appointment today with one of our cancer dietitians to begin managing your nutrition.
Broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables. This vegetable family contains powerful phytochemicals, including carotenoids, indoles and glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have been studied and shown to slow the growth of many cancers.