Diet for Mesothelioma Cancer
Proper diet and nutrition is important to keep any person healthy, but for mesothelioma patients, it is paramount. That’s because mesothelioma treatments can be stressful on the body and spirit. Proper diet and nutrition gives the body a good foundation to build on.
Eating the right kinds of foods during mesothelioma treatment can help ease some of the discomforts and help you stay stronger and healthier. Even during palliative care and complementary medical treatments, proper nutrition is essential.
Diet -- The sum of the amount of food a person consumes and the quality and composition of this variety of foods. Diet depends on a variety of factors, including living conditions, religious preferences and economic status.
Nutrition -- The way in which a person uses food for growth. Nutrition is gained from different components in the food. The best way to get good nutrition is through a proper diet.
Cancer Treatments That Affect Nutrition
Some types of mesothelioma and treatments can change the way the body uses food and affect overall nutrition. For example, tumors that are in the stomach area from peritoneal mesothelioma may change the way the body uses nutrients. At the same time, some of the most popular cancer treatments -- surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy -- may make it difficult to keep proper nutrient levels in the body. In some cases, like chemotherapy, the patient doesn’t feel like eating because the negative effects the chemotherapy drugs have on the appetite. In other cases, including radiation, mouth sores make it difficult to eat. There are several other side effects that cancer treatments have as well:
- Dry Mouth
- Pain and Anxiety
Cancer treatment can affect taste, appetite, smell and the ability to absorb all of the proper nutrients. This can cause malnutrition that can lead to anorexia or cachexia, which can leave the patient weak, tired and unable to fight infection or make it through cancer treatment.
- Anorexia -- The overall loss of the desire to eat as a result of treatments that make eating difficult. It is treatable through prescription medications to increase appetite and changes in diet.
- Cachexia -- Also known as wasting syndrome, this is a loss of muscle mass and body weight that cannot be reversed with nutritional therapy. It often happens during cancer treatments, with signs that include fatigue, weakness, muscle loss and significant weight loss. It is difficult to treat.
Proper diet and nutrition can help patients maintain the body weight and boost their strength through treatments. Through the course of your mesothelioma, it is important to have specialists on your team who will ensure your nutritional needs are being met. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are three main nutritional goals for all cancer patients:
- Provide missing nutrients
- Maintain nutritional health
- Prevent nutritional problems
Types of Advanced Nutritional Care
For patients who cannot take their food through the mouth because of advanced treatments or problems as a result of the mesothelioma, there are other options:
- Feeding Tube: Also called enteral nutrition or tube feeding, this is liquid nutrition that is placed in the stomach or small intestines. The tube is either placed through the nose into the stomach or into the intestines through a surgical procedure in the stomach.
- Parenteral nutrition -- When an enteral feeding tube does not work, nutrients are given directly to the blood stream via a catheter in the vein. The catheter is either surgically placed in the upper chest for long-term care or in an arm vein for short-term feeding.
Overall, the goal of a mesothelioma diet and nutrition is to keep the patient strong and healthy. This way the patient is better able to fight the disease and any problems that may occur.
- American Cancer Society. Nutrition for People With Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/nutritionforpeoplewithcancer/index
- National Cancer Institute. Overview of Nutrition in Cancer Care. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/Patient/page1