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Nutrition During and After Cancer Treatment

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN

Reviewers: Academy Nutrition Information Services Team

Published: February 04, 2021

Reviewed: August 22, 2023

Woman smiling - Nutrition Before and After Cancer Treatment

Food and nutrition are critical parts of successful cancer treatment. Nutrients support healing and the growth of healthy cells in your body; they also go a long way toward helping you maintain energy and strength.

A personalized nutrition plan based on an individual's likes, dislikes, lifestyle, symptoms and concerns is an integral part of cancer treatment. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) trained in oncology nutrition is a key part of the medical team that works with people with cancer.

What an Oncology RDN Does

  • Help individuals find the best food choices and ways to eat based on how they feel and what they like. For example, small, frequent snacks may be easier to tolerate than a few larger meals.
  • Help patients determine if supplements and nutrient-rich beverages and foods are needed to get the nutrition they need.
  • Help answer questions about foods, supplements, nutrients and diet. There are an infinite number of sources of information about diet and cancer. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help patients process the information they've found and discuss options that may be most beneficial.

Find an RDN in your area.

Nutrition after Cancer Treatment

Once cancer treatment is complete, maintaining a nutritious eating routine can help the body heal and offer protection for the future. Center your plate to focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Studies have also found that people who limit added sugars, red meat and alcohol have lower risks of certain types of cancer. Food choices should be easy to chew, swallow, digest and absorb, even if high in fat.

This type of eating routine also is good for heart health and can help reduce risk of other chronic diseases.

For more information on nutrition during and after cancer treatment, visit the following sites:

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