Four Common Side Effects of Cancer Treatment And Ways to Overcome

04-13-2017 8:44 AM

It’s not rocket science that cancer patients benefit from a healthy diet. We all do, right?

But in the last few months, I’ve wondered how this is even possible with all the side effects of cancer treatment. The National Institute of Health has done a great job making resources easy to understand for cancer patients and caregivers.

Often, cancer patients must go through chemo and/or radiation. For some, treatment takes a toll that makes it very difficult to get even minimum nutrient requirements.

Of course, side effects vary greatly by patient, cancer treatment and cancer type. A few lucky patients may not experience any side effects at all.

The National Institute of Health names some of the most common cancer treatment side effects that interfere with good nutrition.

  1. Mouth problems, which may include sore throat, sore mouth, dry mouth or trouble swallowing.
  2. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite.
  3. Diarrhea.
  4. Constipation.

Fortunately, the NIH also gives these 13 tips that may help you overcome.

  1. Choose foods that are easy to chew.
  2. Cut food into small pieces and cook till soft.
  3. Puree foods with blender or food processor.
  4. Drink with a straw to help push the drinks/liquid beyond the painful parts of your mouth.
  5. Eat cold or room-temperature food.
  6. Suck on ice chips. Ice may help numb and soothe your mouth. It also helps keep you hydrated.
  7. Moisten food with sauce, gravy or dressing to make it easier to swallow.
  8. Ask your doctor about prescription meds to ease nausea. You may need to try several different ones.
  9. Eat five or six smaller meals instead of three large meals.
  10. Eat, even if you don’t feel hungry.
  11. Sip only small amounts of liquid during meals. Some people feel full or bloated if they eat and drink at the same time.
  12. Try drinking warm liquids after a meal to help with constipation.
  13. Consider acupuncture, ginger and meditation for easing nausea. Emerging research shows acupuncture helps with nausea and pain.

If you’ve experienced cancer and some of these problems, let us hear from you. We’d love to know what you found helpful.

Stacy Graves is contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog. You can connect with her at, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.