A Healthy Diet For Radiation Therapy
As one of the most common cancer treatment options, radiation therapy is used to shrink tumors and stop the growth of cancerous cells. Similar to other treatment solutions, radiation therapy can make individuals with cancer become fatigued or disinterested in eating, among other side-effects. Thats why its important to maintain a healthy diet during radiation therapy. If you or a loved one are undergoing radiation therapy, RCCA can help you find a nutritious diet for maintaining your health during and after treatment.
- 1/2cup ice- cream premium, 1tablespoon chocolate syrup
Drink Plenty Of Liquids
Hydration is an important aspect of a healthy radiation diet. It is recommended that individuals drink 3-4 quarts of liquids every day. Drinking lots of water is especially important if you experience diarrhea during radiation therapy.
Good hydration flushes toxins out of the body and reduces treatment side effects such as nausea, weakness, bowel changes, and fatigue, says Komar. Staying hydrated can also help keep a patient from going into the cancer center for IV hydration.
Keep a filled water bottle with you at all times and drink, drink, drink. Some Jello, pudding, popsicles and juice products are additional hydration sources, but be cautions of their sugar content. If you do not care for the taste of water, try sneaking water into soup broths, fruit shakes, and flavored teas.
What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Stomach And Abdomen
If you are having radiation treatment to the stomach or some portion of the abdomen, you may experience an upset stomach, nausea or diarrhea. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to relieve these problems. Do not take any home remedies during your treatment unless you first check with your doctor or nurse.
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Radiation Therapy Timing And Breast Reconstruction
The timing of radiation treatment in your overall breast cancer treatment plan depends on your individual situation and the characteristics of the breast cancer.
In many cases, radiation therapy is given after surgery. If chemotherapy is planned after surgery, radiation usually follows chemotherapy.
If youre having mastectomy and have decided to have breast reconstruction, its important to know that radiation can cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume and change color, texture, and appearance.
In particular, radiation therapy is known to cause complications with implant reconstruction. Research also suggests that a reconstructed breast may interfere with radiation therapy reaching the area affected by cancer, though this can vary on a case-by-case basis.
For these reasons, some surgeons advise waiting until after radiation and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are completed before breast reconstruction surgery is done.
Other surgeons may recommend a more staged approach, which places a tissue expander after mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast during radiation treatments. Once radiation is completed and the tissues have recovered, the expander that was used to maintain the shape of the breast is removed and replaced with tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant.
Data Sources And Searches
This systematic review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines.14 The literature search occurred in July 2018. To identify studies for this review, we developed detailed strategies for each database searched with the help of a research informationist . We based these on the search strategy developed for MEDLINE , but revised appropriately for each of the following databases: Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials . The search strategy used a combination of controlled vocabulary and free-text terms with truncation published from January 2008 through July 2018. Only studies in English were included. Animal studies were excluded. The following concepts and terms were used: Neoplasms, Patients, Therapeutics Food, Diet, Diet Therapy Eating, Consume, Ingest, Intake, Feed Recurrence, Disease Progression, Second Primary Neoplasms, Mucositis, Nausea, Vomiting. The following concepts were excluded from the search strategy: Nutritional Support, Dietary Supplements, and Gastrointestinal Intubation. Concepts were combined using the AND operator. The complete PubMed strategy is available in Appendix 1, Supplemental Digital Content 1, . All search results were combined in a bibliographic management tool and duplicates were eliminated using the Bramer method for deduplication in Endnote.15 The final PubMed search strategy can be found in Figure 1 of the Appendix, Supplemental Digital Content 1, .
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Will My Appetite Be Affected
Many side effects can cause problems with eating and digesting food, but you always should try to eat enough to help damaged tissues rebuild themselves. It’s very important not to lose weight during radiation therapy so that your body can heal. Try to eat small meals often and eat a variety of different foods. Your doctor or nurse can tell you whether your treatment calls for a special diet and a dietitian will have a lot of ideas to help you maintain your weight.
If you have pain when you chew and swallow, your doctor may advise you to use a powdered or liquid diet supplement. Many of these products, available at the drugstore without prescription, are made in a variety of flavors. They are tasty when used alone, or they can be combined with other foods, such as pureed fruit, or added to milkshakes. Some of the companies that make diet supplements have produced recipe booklets to help you increase your nutrient intake. Ask your dietitian or pharmacist for further information.
What side effects occur with radiation therapy to the head and neck area? Some people who are having radiation to the head and neck have redness and irritation in the mouth, a dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, changes in taste or nausea. Try not to let these symptoms keep you from eating.
Why And When People Start Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a flexible and safe treatment. Doctors may use it after surgery to remove cancerous tumors, as it can reduce the chances of a recurrence by destroying any remaining cancer cells.
If an individual has metastatic breast cancer, which is when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, doctors may also opt to treat them with radiation therapy to ease their symptoms.
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Breast Cancer Food Guide
There is no specific diet that is recommended for people with breast cancer. Your nutrient needs may vary depending on many factors that include other medical diagnoses, your body weight, nutrient deficiencies, medications, and any symptoms that youre currently experiencing.
Your healthcare team, including a registered dietitian who specializes in oncology nutrition, can help you come up with an appropriate eating plan specific to your needs and overall health. The following foods are based on general recommendations to maintain overall health while living with breast cancer:
- whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein sources like chicken and turkey, fatty fish like trout or salmon, and plant-based proteins sources like lentils and nuts
- foods high in healthy fats and protein. If you need to maintain or gain weight, incorporate sources of healthy fat like nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil as well as protein sources like eggs, chicken, lentils, and fish. Protein-rich foods are especially important for maintaining muscle mass.
- blended liquids such as milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups for those times when you dont feel like eating solid foods
- high fiber foods like whole grains, flax seeds, legumes, vegetables and fruits to treat constipation
Nutrition During Radiation Therapy Treatment: What Patients Should Know
Many cancer patients lose weight unexpectedly during radiation therapy because they struggle with side effects caused from treatment. Maintaining proper nutrition during radiation therapy can increase your chances of successful treatment and improve your quality of life during and after treatment.
We spoke with senior clinical dietician Haley Deas to answer common nutrition questions asked by patients facing radiation therapy. Heres what she had to share.
How important is protein during radiation therapy?
Getting the right amount of protein is very important during radiation treatment. Each meal or snack should have some source of protein. This will help spare lean muscle mass while repairing damage from radiation.
Some good protein-rich foods to try are:
If youre having trouble eating solid foods, try meal replacement drinks to make sure you get enough protein.
How can I stay hydrated during radiation therapy?
Staying hydrated makes side effects less severe and lowers your chances of missing or delaying cancer treatments. Its important to avoid dehydration during treatment to protect your organs from long-term damage. Our goal is for patients to drink enough liquids to allow for normal body functions.
All non-alcoholic beverages count toward keeping you hydrated. If you dont enjoy drinking water, try flavored waters or waters infused with fruit or vegetables to improve the taste. The average radiation therapy patient needs 8 to 12 cups of water per day.
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What Is The Difference Between Radiation Therapy And Chemotherapy
There are several distinct differences between radiation and chemotherapy. One is the delivery method. Chemotherapy is delivered either orally or through an infusion, whereas radiation therapy involves high-dose radiation beams. Radiation therapy is more targeted, but it can impact adjacent cells. Chemotherapy can unintentionally target cells throughout your body, including hair follicles, bone marrow, and other vital components.
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Additional Eating And Drinking Tips For Radiation Therapy
- Chew your food slowly. Take your time eating each small meal.
- To make sure youre getting enough calories during radiation, ask yourself, What can I add to this meal to make it more nutrient-rich? Think about topping your dishes with dressings and sauces. Or, think about adding extra ingredients you can add in or on top of your dishes.
- Cook foods that smell good
- Drink beverages that are high in healthy calories
- Eat foods in a stress-free relaxing setting to make eating a positive experience
- Eat every few hours vs waiting until youre hungry
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What Are Common Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is called a local treatment. This means that it only affects the area of the body that is targeted. For example, radiation therapy to the scalp may cause hair loss. But people who have radiation therapy to other parts of their body do not usually lose the hair on their head.
Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include:
Skin changes. Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling. These side effects depend on which part of the body received radiation therapy and other factors. Skin changes from radiation therapy usually go away a few weeks after treatment ends. If skin damage becomes a serious problem, your doctor may change your treatment plan. Lotion may help with skin changes, but be sure to check with your nurse or other health care team about which cream they recommend and when to apply it. It is also best to protect affected skin from the sun. Learn more about skin-related side effects.
Fatigue. Fatigue is a term used to describe feeling tired or exhausted almost all the time. Many patients experience fatigue. Your level of fatigue often depends on your treatment plan. For example, radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy may result in more fatigue. Learn how to cope with fatigue.
Dietary Supplement Safety Considerations
Many people believe that a pill or supplement they find in stores, is safe and it works. The Food and Drug Administration has rules to help ensure that supplements contain what their labels claim they do, but the supplements safety and its effects on the body are not addressed by any FDA rules. The FDA does not make manufacturers of these products print possible side effects on their labels. And the FDA cant pull a dietary supplement or herbal product from the market unless they have proof that the product is unsafe.
Its also been shown that many herbal products arent what the label says they are. Some products dont contain any of the herb theyre supposed to. Some also contain potentially harmful drugs, additives, or contaminants that arent listed on the label. This means theres no sure way to know if a supplement is safe or how it will affect you.
Tell your cancer care team about any over-the-counter products or supplements youre using or are thinking about using. Take the bottle to your doctor to talk about the dose and be sure that the ingredients do not interfere with your health or cancer treatments. Some other safety tips:
- Ask your cancer care team for reliable information on dietary supplements.
- Check the product labels for both the quantity and concentration of active ingredients in each product.
- Stop taking the product and call your cancer care team right away if you have side effects, like wheezing, itching, numbness, or tingling in your limbs.
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Staying On Track With Radiation Treatments
The benefits of radiation therapy strongly depend on getting the full recommended dose without significant breaks, because:
- The full dose of radiation is needed to get rid of any cancer cells remaining after surgery.
- Radiation therapy is most effective when given continuously on schedule. In the past, it was given every day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. Accelerated, also called hypofractionated, radiation therapy schedules deliver about the same total dose of radiation over a shorter schedule usually 3 to 4 weeks, which can be more convenient. Partial breast radiation can be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. Also, by seeing your doctor regularly during and after treatment, you can best deal with any side effects.
Why you might have problems sticking to your radiation therapy plan:
- The treatment schedule may conflict with job demands, family needs, or the distance you live from the treatment facility. This may cause you to miss or postpone appointments, even if youre on an accelerated schedule.
- Skin irritation from radiation can cause soreness, peeling, and sometimes blisters. If youve also had lymph-node surgery, radiation treatment may worsen breast or underarm pain or discomfort. If you have these side effects, you might feel like stopping radiation.
Ways to overcome problems and stay on track with radiation treatment:
Having Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer
You will have radiotherapy as an outpatient. It is usually given using equipment that looks like a large x-ray machine. You might hear it called external beam radiotherapy .
You usually have radiotherapy as a series of short, daily treatments. These are called sessions. The treatments are given from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekend. The person who operates the machine is called a radiographer. They will give you information and support during your treatment.
You usually have radiotherapy for 3 weeks. Women who had breast-conserving surgery may have an extra dose to the area where the cancer was. Sometimes the booster dose is given at the same time as radiotherapy to the rest of the breast. Or it may be given at the end of the 3 weeks. This means you will need a few more treatments. Your doctor will tell you how many treatments you will need.
If you have radiotherapy to your left breast, you may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it briefly. This is called deep inspiration breath hold . You do this at each of your planning and treatment sessions. It keeps you still and also moves your heart away from the treatment area. DIBH helps protect your heart during your treatment and reduces the risk of late effects.
External radiotherapy does not make you radioactive. It is safe for you to be with other people, including children, after your treatment.
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Changes In Sense Of Taste
Breast cancer treatment can affect your senses of taste and smell. Foods you used to enjoy may seem bitter or rancid. Many people who go through chemotherapy say food tastes “metallic.”
This can last a few weeks or months, even after treatment ends. To deal with it, change up your routine:
- If the foods you usually eat donât taste right, try different ones.
- Eat a light meal a few hours before each treatment.
- Use plastic utensils to avoid a metallic aftertaste.
- Eat foods cold or at room temperature instead of hot.
- Try fruit smoothies, which don’t have strong smells or tastes.
After Treatment For Bowel Cancer
After bowel surgery and treatment you may need to eat a low-fibre diet for four to six weeks.
You should only follow this way of eating if instructed by your doctor or dietitian.Low fibre foods to try eating:
- White breads and cereals – rice bubbles, porridge, cornflakes, plain crackers, muffins, biscuits and cakes
- Fruit and vegetables – banana, melon, tinned pears, well cooked carrots, kumara, potatoes, pumpkin, asparagus, courgettes, spinach, avocados, boiled taro and green banana. Clear and smooth vegetable soup
- Milk and milk products – plain yoghurt or fruit yoghurt without seeds, cheese, cottage chees, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream
- Beans, pulses, fish , seafood, eggs, chicken, meat and small amounts of tofu
- small amounts of fats and oils
- cow or soy milk, water, tea, Milo, Complan, strained juices but not prune juice, clear or strained soup
- honey, salt, jam without pips, marmite/vegemite, butter, jellies, smooth peanut and other nut butters
Foods to consider avoiding include:
- seeds, dried fruit and nuts
- most raw fruit and vegetables
- grainy breads and cereals
- tough stringy food such as celery, coconut and gristle from meat fatty foods such as takeaways and fast foods.
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Things To Avoid During Radiation Therapy Aloe Vera
Many cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy arent aware of the precautions to take, and will utilize aloe vera to deal with some of the unpleasant side effects that come along with it. People typically use aloe vera to deal with low-level sunburns and things of the like. A popular misconception of this useful plant is its effectivenessfor burn care for radiation treatment patients.