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Changes in Eating

Several factors can cause changes to your eating during cancer treatment. Some of these include the following:

  • Problems swallowing, which can be caused by the location of the tumor1Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed June 18, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting, which are often side effects associated with chemoradiation therapy15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.
  • Changes in the perception of taste or smell15, Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.16 Ogama N, Suzuki S. Adverse effects and appetite suppression associated with particle beam therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2012 Jun;9(1):28-37.
  • Changes in salivation, such as decreased salivation or changes in the saliva quality16 Ogama N, Suzuki S. Adverse effects and appetite suppression associated with particle beam therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2012 Jun;9(1):28-37.
  • Diarrhea15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.
  • Decreased appetite15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.
  • Inflammation of the membranes in the mouth (mucositis); severe mucositis sometimes causes pain, which in turn negatively impacts the desire to eat15, Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.16 Ogama N, Suzuki S. Adverse effects and appetite suppression associated with particle beam therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2012 Jun;9(1):28-37.

If you experience any of these problems and your nutritional needs are not being met, there are various solutions that your registered nutritionist and health care professionals may suggest, which are as follows:

  • If you experience a loss of appetite, eat smaller meals more often.13, Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jul-Aug;62(4):243-74.15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.
  • Eat or drink foods that are rich in the nutrients that you need., 15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.
  • Use nutritional supplements, such as protein powders or nutrition “shakes,” to boost your caloric intake.
  • There may be a need for temporary treatment to help you meet your nutritional needs, which include the use of a feeding tube or an IV.1Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed June 18, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.
  • Manage treatment-associated side effects. For example, if you experience decreased salivation as a side effect of radiation therapy, there are medications that can stimulate salivary production (e.g., pilocarpine).16 Ogama N, Suzuki S. Adverse effects and appetite suppression associated with particle beam therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2012 Jun;9(1):28-37.

If you experience extreme weight loss, such as the loss of 10 percent or more of body weight, or if you have problems with swallowing as the result of treatment, your nutritionist may need to monitor you more closely.1Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed June 18, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.

http://vimeo.com/64110203
Getting enough calories into your system every day is an added stress you really don’t need. The feeding tube was very upsetting to me at the beginning but actually became a great source of comfort because I could concentrate on healing and didn’t have the added stress of getting enough nutrients.Jason S. (tonsil cancer survivor)

References

1 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed June 18, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.

2 Curt GA. Like pain, this is a symptom that physicians can and should manage. BMJ. 2001;322:1560.

3 Pearson SE, Meyer AC, Adams GL, Ondrey FG. Decreased hearing after combined modality therapy for head and neck cancer. Am J Otolaryngol. 2006 Mar-Apr;27(2):76-80.

4 Smets EM, Garssen B, Schuster-Uitterhoeve AL, de Haes JC. Fatigue in cancer patients. Br J Cancer. 1993 Aug;68(2):220-4.

5 Vogelzang NJ, Breitbart W, Cella D, et al. Patient, caregiver, and oncologist perceptions of cancer-related fatigue: results of a tripart assessment survey. The Fatigue Coalition. Semin Hematol. 1997 Jul;34(3 Suppl 2):4-12.

6 Henry DH, Viswanathan HN, Elkin EP, Traina S, Wade S, Cella D. Symptoms and treatment burden associated with cancer treatment: results from a cross-sectional national survey in the U.S. Support Care Cancer. 2008 Jul;16(7):791-801.

7 Hofman M, Ryan JL, Figueroa-Moseley CD, Jean-Pierre P, Morrow GR. Cancer-related fatigue: the scale of the problem. Oncologist. 2007;12 Suppl 1:4-10.

8 Referenced with permission from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Cancer-Related Fatigue V.1.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed Jan 22, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.nccn.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.

9 Rogers LQ, Courneya KS, Robbins KT, et al. Physical activity and quality of life in head and neck cancer survivors. Support Care Cancer. 2006 Oct;14(10):1012-9.

10 Dimeo F, Rumberger BG, Keul J. Aerobic exercise as therapy for cancer fatigue. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Apr;30(4):475-8.

11 Dimeo F, Schwartz S, Wesel N, Voigt A, Theil E. Effects of an endurance and resistance exercise program on persistent cancer-related fatigue after treatment. Ann Oncol. 2008;19(8):1495-1499.

12 Curt GA. Like pain, this is a symptom that physicians can and should manage. BMJ. 2001;322:1560.

13 Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jul-Aug;62(4):243-74.

14 Minton O, Richardson A, Sharpe M, Hotopf M, Stone P. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the pharmacological treatment of cancer-related fatigue. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Aug 20;100(16):1155-66.

15 Doyle C,Kushi LH,Byers T, et al.2006 Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee; American Cancer Society.Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA Cancer J Clin.2006;56:323-353.

16 Ogama N, Suzuki S. Adverse effects and appetite suppression associated with particle beam therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2012 Jun;9(1):28-37.

17 Hoffman B. Cancer survivors at work: a generation of progress. CA Cancer J Clin. 2005 Sep-Oct;55(5):271-80.

18 Blank PD. The economics of the employment provisions of The Americans with Disabilities Act: Part I – workplace accommodations. DePaul Law Rev. 1997;46(4):877-914.