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Tips for Patients on Maintaining Weight During Cancer Therapy

Tips for Patients on Maintaining Weight During Cancer Therapy

NEW YORK--Getting good nutrition can be hard for patients undergoing
cancer treatment. But taking in as much nourishment as possible
while they still have an appetite can help, advises Memorial Sloan-Kettering
dietitian Maria Biasucci.

"Take advantage of the uptimes," she urged patients
attending a Cancer Care nutrition seminar in Manhattan. "Are
you going to be getting therapy in 2 weeks? Eat as much as you
can because you may not feel like it later, and you may lose some

Before and during therapy, patients should supplement their diet
with high-calorie foods, adding enriching butter or margarine,
cream and dressings. If they can tolerate it, Ms. Biasucci recommends
that patients drink "double-strength milk.".

Patients should also think about preparing meals and freezing
them for use during therapy when they may not feel like cooking.
They should have protein snacks and high-calorie protein drinks
on hand in case other foods become unappealing to them, she said.

A patient at the Cancer Care meeting told Ms. Biasucci that food
tasted bad and asked what could be done. "You might want
to avoid red meat because that can cause a bitter taste,"
she said. "Substitute the lighter cuts like turkey, chicken,
or fish. Use more eggs and more dairy products to supplement protein
intake. Put meat in casseroles or soups to mask the flavor. Try
using other seasonings like lemon juice, basil, rosemary, or oregano."

People with chewing or swallowing problems, she said, should get
tender or chopped cuts of meat and put gravy or sauce on the meat
to make chewing easier. Canned or cooked foods, pureed meats or
vegetables, and even baby foods are helpful.

Those with dry mouth should also use soft food. They should drink
plenty of liquids; puree their foods; add gravy, margarine, or
butter; and avoid acidic or salty foods or coarse foods like toast,
cookies, or cakes unless dipped in liquid.


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