In the majority of cases, cancer treatment involves the following treatments, either separately or in combination: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy.
The treatment depends on the location and progression of the tumour and the general condition of the patient. Each of these can affect the energy balance of your body, even if the extent and symptoms vary from person to person.
IN CASE OF ANTI-CANCER SURGERY
Surgical intervention for cancer involves the surgical removal of the tumour, followed by chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy, radiotherapy.
(Anti-cancer surgery leads to a temporary increased energy demand, which is very important in the recovery process, especially in wound healing and infection control.)
IN CASE OF RADIOTHERAPY
In radiotherapy, high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation usually destroy cancer cells. Irradiation can also affect nutritional needs, especially if the digestive tract, the digestive system, is also part of the irradiated area.
(Depending on the area to be irradiated, side effects may include irritation of the oral mucosa, tongue and throat, mucosal ulcers, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation. In some cases, side effects may include loss of appetite or difficulty swallowing.)
If you feel that you are unable or find it difficult to eat the portions you have previously consumed, consult your doctor, who will prescribe special formulae specifically designed to help you eat a balanced diet and, if necessary, appetite suppressant medicines during this period to give your body everything it needs to recover.
During chemotherapy, doctors use special drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used on its own, but is often combined with, for example, targeted therapy.
It can precede or follow surgery and can be given in combination with radiotherapy - this is called radiotherapy.
(Chemotherapy is often associated with side effects, but most are transient and disappear soon after the therapy is finished. The side effects of chemotherapy (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, constipation, changes in taste, food aversions, etc.) can lead to a loss of appetite, which can mean a reduction in normal nutrient intake. This may eventually lead to weight loss or nutrient deficiencies.)
In many cases, adequate nutrient intake cannot be achieved through normal diet.
In such cases, the consumption of a high energy, recovery-promoting formula is necessary. This will help to ensure that your body can tolerate the anti-cancer treatment properly and that your doctor can complete the treatment you need.
HOW DOES NUTRITIONAL THERAPY HELP IN CANCER TREATMENT?
The most important nutritional goal during cancer treatment is to maintain a healthy weight, not to lose weight.
Specially formulated nutrients can help us do this (see for example the Avemar information leaflet).
(Eating a healthy diet and thus maintaining your weight is very important in preparation for and during therapy. The quality nutrients in special foods will support your body and help you to recover.)
HOW CAN SPECIALISED FOODS HELP IN CANCER TREATMENT?
During treatment, your body's energy needs increase, which is very difficult to replace with conventional nutrition. Because of temporary changes in your appetite, sense of taste or smell, you may have trouble eating foods and quantities of food you used to like during cancer treatment that you used to take for granted.
The side effects of cancer treatment may lead to further changes in your eating habits. Some foods may seem less appetising than before and you may eat less of them as a result.
(Special foods prescribed by your doctor may contain the energy, protein, vitamins, antioxidants, carotenoids, special omega fatty acids, minerals and trace elements your body needs in an easy-to-use form.)
Your nutritional status has a significant impact on the outcome of your therapy, so it is very important that you do not lose weight during this time and maintain your original weight even if you would otherwise like to lose weight.