Good nutrition is essential to maintaining a healthy body, and it’s even more important if you’re battling bone cancer. Cancer of the bone, and many of the conventional therapies used to treat it, may affect your appetite and tolerance for certain foods, as well as impact your body’s ability to process nutrients properly. Before and during bone cancer treatment, it’s important to eat a high-protein and high-calorie diet to ensure your body has sufficient energy to make it through treatment.
However, keep in mind that the food you must eat before and during bone cancer treatment may differ from your usual meals pre-diagnosis. Your goal is to prepare your immune system and overall bodily functions for battle. You need to maintain a healthy weight, and therefore, your doctors may encourage you to fuel your body with calorie-dense foods, particularly if you’re underweight or feeling weak. Furthermore, just like when you have the flu, you need to eat, even if you’re not feeling your best. Over 20 percent of patients die from malnutrition rather than from cancer itself.
Why do bone cancer patients experience loss of appetite?
Surgery, high-dose chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other conventional treatments for bone cancer can cause nausea and pain. Both of these side effects can reduce your appetite.
“Just when you need to eat the most, you feel you can tolerate the least,” said Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital both in Houston. “You have to recognize that your appetite is no longer a barometer of whether you need to eat or not.” That being the case, as mentioned earlier, you must try your best to eat, even on days when it’s the last thing you want to do.
What should bone cancer patients eat before treatment?
Having a nutrient-dense diet is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for both traditional and alternative bone cancer treatment. A balanced diet allows you to go into treatment with reserves to help strengthen your immune system, rebuild and protect the tissues, and maintain your vigor through it all.
Moreover, eating healthy before bone cancer treatment can help improve the way you cope with the side effects of certain treatments and drugs. Being well-nourished may likewise improve the effectiveness of your treatment.
Your diet should consist of the following:
- High-protein foods, including eggs, dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, beans, and nuts.
- High-calorie foods, including butter and margarine, dairy products, sauces and gravies, nuts, and salad dressings.
Explore the boundaries of your inner chef when boosting the amount of protein and calories in the food you eat. For example, you can add boiled eggs to casseroles and salads, or enjoy an immune-boosting smoothie with a spoonful of peanut butter. Use whole milk, oil, or butter in your cooking, and don’t be afraid to add dairy to mashed potatoes, vegetable soups, and cereals. The goal here is to maximize the fuel available to your body.
What should patients eat during bone cancer treatment?
Bone cancer treatments can affect the way your body responds to food and nutrition. Here are some ways to maintain proper nutrition during certain cancer treatments:
- Bone surgery. Your body requires additional protein and calories to heal from invasive procedures. Eat well when your appetite is good, but don’t be too hard on yourself if any side effects from surgery make it difficult to eat. Fuel your body with small meals and snacks throughout the day, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. There are many different types of water you can drink, including distilled and purified.
- Chemotherapy. Nausea associated with chemotherapy drugs can cause you to lose your appetite. Therefore, whenever your appetite is good, take advantage and eat as well as you can. If you’re feeling unwell, try eating small and frequent meals or snacks. Avoid greasy and deep-fried foods.
- Radiation therapy. You need to eat something at least an hour before each session of radiation therapy. Similar to bone surgery and chemotherapy, eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals, especially if you experience diarrhea, discomfort, or find that everything you put in your mouth doesn’t taste good. Reserve larger meals on days when your appetite is better.
Try setting a timer at regular intervals to remind yourself to eat. Whenever the bell goes off, go and eat something.
What should patients eat after bone cancer treatment?
After your final bone cancer treatment, you can have a more traditional diet. A dietitian or your doctor can help you plan a sensible and healthy diet that includes:
- A colorful array of different fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat dairy products
- Reduced-fat in your meals; opting for baked or steamed foods over fried foods
- High-fiber foods such as whole-grain bread and cereal
You may also address any nutritional deficiencies by taking supplements. The recommended supplements for bone cancer patients include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity
- Vitamin D and calcium nitrate for bone support
- A multivitamin containing vitamins A, B, C, E, magnesium, zinc, and selenium
- A probiotic for maintaining gastrointestinal and immune health
What are the precautions?
Consult your cancer care provider before making any changes to your diet, as some high-protein and high-calorie foods, as well as certain supplements, may interfere with your treatment. Avoid binge eating or overeating as well, since consuming too much food can cause excessive weight gain and other health problems.
When is a feeding tube necessary?
If you cannot eat during cancer treatment, your doctor may decide to insert a feeding tube into your stomach, with the visible portion showing just above your belly button. A liquid formula for nutrients and water for hydration will be poured into the tube four to five times a day to maintain a well-nourished body.
According to patients who lived with a feeding tube, it can be uncomfortable and even painful at times. You will need to adjust your sleeping position and make time to sanitize and maintain the tube, as well as handle any complications. Some of the complications of a feeding tube include constipation, diarrhea, skin issues around the tube, and dehydration.
Regardless, even with a feeding tube, you can have a relatively normal life. You can still exercise, go out with loved ones, and have sex.
Choose Doctors Who Care
Here at New Hope Unlimited, nourishing the body is the forefront of our treatment plan. Contact us today if you want a cancer care team that not only prioritizes nutrition but also specializes in treatments with fewer side effects than conventional therapies and big pharma products.