Nutrition Before Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment options are designed to kill cancer cells. In many cases, healthy tissue is also damaged during the treatment process. It's important to take control of your health before undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation so that your body is strong during treatment. In addition to maintaining strength and endurance, nutrition can influence how effective cancer treatment is and how your body recovers following treatment.

Maintaining a healthy diet can boost strength, endurance, and overall wellness before cancer treatment, and may even lessen side effects, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mouth sores
  • Digestive issues
  • Weight issues
  • Fatigue

A typical diet may not be the right option for cancer patients. Instead of large amounts of fruits and vegetables, your doctor may recommend more protein and carbohydrates to boost energy levels. Always follow the recommendations that you and your doctor have discussed. If you have questions about what type of diet you should follow, or what foods you should avoid, ask your doctor or nurse navigator to help you find answers and resources. It's important to communicate openly with your doctor from diagnosis through the completion of your treatment plan.

When preparing for cancer treatment, you should try to plan ahead. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods that are easy to prepare. If you are able, make and freeze meals in advance for the days when you don't feel strong enough to cook.

Always ask for help if you feel like you need it. Ask family and friends to help you with grocery shopping or meal preparation. Talk to your doctor about recommended types of foods, or ask about Baptist Cancer Center's medical nutrition therapy program.