Mesothelioma and Nutrition
Nutrition is an important part in the treatment of mesothelioma patients, whether they are opting for the most aggressive treatment choices or just interested in controlling the symptoms. There are certain nutrients that are essential for helping the patient feel better and get stronger. These includes:
Not only worsening symptoms as the disease progresses, but side effects of the treatments themselves can affect a patient’s appetite causing him or her to not eat well. This can lead to malnutrition. The cancer itself can also result in weight loss.
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Nutritional Therapy for Mesothelioma
Nutritional therapy is used for mesothelioma patients to ensure that they are receiving all of the nutrients needed to keep up a healthy weight. The goal is also to help their body adjust as changes occur as a result of aggressive treatments. That is why it is important early on to assess the status of the patient nutritionally. This can help point out possible issues that might delay treatment or have a negative effect on quality of life.
A nutritional assessment could include:
- The patient’s change in weight over several months
- Any change in how much the patient eats and what type of food he or she is eating
- Certain things that may be affecting their appetite like nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
The job of a nutritionist in treating mesothelioma and other forms of cancer is to:
- Either correct malnutrition or prevent it from occurring
- Make sure things like bone, muscle, and other areas of body mass don’t waste away
- Help the patient be able to tolerate their aggressive treatments
- Ensure that they can fight infection
- Help them keep up strength, energy, and a good quality of life
What is proper nutrition for a healthy person is likely not the same for someone with mesothelioma. That is why it is so important to consult a nutrionist.
How Do Mesothelioma Treatments Affect Nutrition?
When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, a treatment plan suited to him or her is put together. Any treatment has the same goal – to kill cancer cells. But while cancer cells are dying, healthy cells are killed as well. The death of healthy cells has side effects that that can negatively affect the patient’s nutrition.
One treatment for mesothelioma is surgery. When a person undergoes surgery the body requires more nutrients to fight infection, heal, and recover. Unfortunately, surgery usually results in pain, lost appetite, and pain. Because of this, the patient may not able to eat as much as they should.
Chemotherapy is one of the treatments that kills healthy cells as it kill cancer cells. Some of these healthy cells that are destroyed are in the digestive tract and in the mouth, making it difficult for the patient to eat. Side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and even sores inside the mouth. It can also alter the way food tastes. All of these things combined can often affect nutrition. Radiation can also have an affect on healthy cells, decreasing the appetite.
Anyone who chooses aggressive treatments like this would strongly benefit from the help of a nutritionist.
Nutrition Before and During Treatment
The best way to prepare for any treatment for mesothelioma is eating a healthy diet. A patient who is well-nourished can have more strength to recover, tissues can rebuild more quickly, and they may be able to better fight infection. Their bodies can deal with the side effects much better if their nutrition is good.
While undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, patients should consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about what they should eat for meals or snacks and what beverages or supplements they should take that are best suited for their needs.