Nutrition for the Person With Cancer During Treatment

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Before treatment begins

Until you begin treatment, you won’t know exactly what, if any, side effects you may have or how you will feel. One way to prepare is to look at your treatment as a time to focus on yourself and on getting well. Here are some other ways to get ready.

Make plans now

You can reduce your anxiety about treatment and side effects by taking action now. Talk to your treatment team about the things that worry you. Learn as much as you can about the cancer, your treatment plan, and how you might feel during treatment. Planning how you will cope with possible side effects can make you feel more in control and ready for the changes that may come.

Many people have few or no side effects that keep them from eating. Even if you have side effects, they may be mild, and you may be able to manage them with drugs or simple diet changes. Most side effects go away after cancer treatment ends.

Here are some tips to help you get ready for treatment:

  • Stock your pantry and freezer with your favorite foods so you won’t need to shop as often. Include foods you know you can eat even when you are sick.
  • Cook in advance, and freeze foods in meal-sized portions.
  • Talk to your friends or family members about ways they can help with shopping and cooking, or ask a friend or family member to take over those jobs for you.
  • Talk to your doctor, nurse, or a registered dietitian about any concerns you have about eating well. They can help you make diet changes to help manage side effects like constipation, weight loss, or nausea.

For more information on coping, see the “To learn more” section and/or call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Last Medical Review: 06/09/2014
Last Revised: 06/09/2014