Nutritional Support During Cancer Treatment

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Cancer! Such a scarier word to imagine someone suffering from this life-threatening disease. When you talk about cancer, the only thing that comes to your mind is treatment, side effects, survival rate, and finance. Have you ever gave a thought about their nutrition, the weight loss they go through, the loss of appetite, or the change in their taste bud, etc. ?

This might not look more important at the initial stage, but it’s very crucial to look into their nutrition from the beginning. Pediatric cancer, unlike adult cancer, is very different. Cancer in an adult is more of lifestyle-related such as increased alcohol consumption, smoking, eating unhealthy food, etc. Cancer in children, on the other hand, is more of environmental or genetics related. My articles will mainly speak about nutrition in pediatric oncology and hematological conditions.

The choice of treatment for cancer is radiation therapy, Chemotherapy, and surgery. This treatment in itself is very strong. Due to this aggressive treatment, they go through side effects such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, ulcers and many more because of which they suffer from “Cancer Cachexia.” Cachexia is categorized by severe wasting of muscle mass, weakness, and fatigue; as a result, they are unable to tolerate the treatment. Therefore, “Nutrition in Cancer Treatment” plays a major role:

  1. Combating the Side Effects
  2. To meet adequate Nutritional requirements
  3. Reversing malnutrition
  4. To maintain growth

Cancer cells spread and divide rapidly attacking other healthy dividing cells in the vicinity. This behavior of cancer cells reduces the normal cell function and therefore decreases the overall immunity. If there is low immunity, chances of infection become high. Therefore food that is served is of concern to avoid infection or other complication in this patient. Secondary infection can increase the risk of interruption in chemotherapy and poor survival rate. Early nutrition assessment and screening help to encounter grade of malnutrition and severity of treatment, which benefits in appropriately managing the patient. Side effects are such that it’s difficult for the child to swallow food through the mouth, therefore feeding tube which goes from nose to the stomach is inserted in order to meet up the child nutritional requirement.

Contemplating a holistic approach to appropriate treatment, nutrition plan and quality of life is vital not just for the child but also for the family.

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