Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients: 

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The First Step

Considering Nutrition Interventions

Sharlene Bidini, RD, CSO

If you are contemplating changing your diet as part of your treatment plan, the first step is to evaluate your current nutritional status.

1. Weigh yourself
 2. Compare your current weight with your weight 30 days ago and 6 months ago

According to Nestle Nutrition "the incidence of malnutrition in cancer patients ranges from 40 to 80%, and most often presents at the time of diagnosis". In addition, the National Cancer Institute reports "an astounding 20% to 40% of cancer patients die from causes related to malnutrition, not from the cancer itself."

A patient can be malnourished and morbidly obese at the same time. It may be difficult for caregivers to recognize malnutrition in an obese patient.

If you lose 5% body weight in 30 days, 7.5% in 90days or 10% in six months then your rate of weight loss is significant & should be addressed by your physician.

Perhaps you would benefit from a change in medications to improve symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or poor appetite. If your appetite is poor and you are unable to eat adequate calories to maintain your weight, then you may want to add an oral supplement. Products such as Boost, Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast are highly concentrated sources of calories, protein, vitamins & minerals. There are many different products to choose from and some have as many as 500 calories per 8ounces. This may be a good option if you find it easier to drink your calories rather than eat them.

In conclusion:

1. Evaluate your current nutritional status.

2. Make every effort to prevent involuntary weight loss.

3. Talk to your doctor about medications to control any gastrointestinal distress

4. Alert your physician to significant changes in weight or appetite

5. See a registered dietitian for an individualized nutrition treatment plan

Copyright 2007. Sharlene Bidini, RD, CSO. All rights reserved



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