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Frequently Asked Questions


Dear Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What should I do?

I receive many inquiries that have different variations on this important question. Unfortunately, I no longer consult with people on an individual basis, and general answers are often simply not adequate to address the full scope of the many concerns that are unique to your situation.

I strongly urge you to seek out the Registered Dietitian (RD) on staff at your cancer center/clinic. She (or he) is educated to thoroughly review your medical information, discuss the particulars of your case with all appropriate members of your health care team, make an individualized nutritional plan specific to your needs, abilities, and desires, and then follow you with both encouragement and refinements in the recommendations as the situation changes. Be pro-active about asking for an appointment with an RD. Do not wait until your symptoms are severe or you have lost weight.

If your cancer center does not have an RD on staff or is so short-staffed that you need to wait weeks to see her or there are other *systems problems* that prohibit you from receiving pro-active, in-depth, individualized nutritional care within a reasonable time-frame, I suggest the following steps:

1. look in your phone book for a Registered Dietitian (RD) in private practice - they can either be listed under Dietitians or Nutritionists.

2. Call The American Dietetic Association (ADA) at 1-800-877-1600 or use the ADA's website or visit the Dietitians of Canada website to find a local Registered Dietitian in private practice.

3. Call the American Institute for Cancer Research (1-800-843-8114) and ask to speak to one of their Registered Dietitians for some general information.

4. Read the book "Eating Hints for Cancer Patients" by The National Cancer Institute. It is available free of charge by calling 1-800-4-CANCER. Your cancer center may have a free copy to give you, or read the entire text on the Internet.

5. Read the book The Cancer Survival Cookbook : 200 Quick & Easy Recipes With Helpful Eating Hints by Donna L. Weihofen, MS, RD, and Christina Marino, MD. This is available for purchase from my website, or your cancer center may have a copy to loan you.

When/if you have the time and/or desire, please advocate on behalf of yourself and other patients at your own cancer center for increased access to a Registered Dietitian as a beneficial component of your total cancer recovery care. Ask to speak to the medical and also the administrative directors of the center/clinic about your request.

Your nutritional requirements need to be addressed in a pro-active, in-depth, and individualized manner with appropriate follow-up monitoring. Registered Dietitians are the members of the health care team that have the education and skills to do this in a specialized manner. However, they are often staffed simply as an *after-thought* in cancer centers and then at staffing levels that are woefully inadequate for the size and complexity of the patient population's needs. RNs and MDs trying to fill in the gaps without the necessary time or thorough training to do so.

I am hopeful and believe this common situation of inadequately staffing RDs in cancer centers can change when the patients themselves (ie the customers) start requesting appropriate nutritional care from their health care system as part of the total approach to healing and recovery after a cancer diagnosis.

I hope this answer has been helpful. I send you my best wishes for health, healing, and continued hope.

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


faq posted 4/01


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Nutritional Concerns during Cancer Treatment (related to side effects)

Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Can you provide a list of all chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents that may potentially have interactions with antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy? posted 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Dear Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What should I do? posted 7/01
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Can I drink your soy shake recipes if my oncologist or dietitian has recommended that I follow a neutropenic diet due to my low white blood cell counts? posted 5/00, updated 7/01, updated 11/02, updated 8/03
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Should I consume antioxidants during my cancer therapy? posted 12/01, updated 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted 4/01, updated 9/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Are there any diet changes to help relieve bloating during abdominal radiation? posted 4/03
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Do you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer?
posted 1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 1/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of my chemotherapy? posted 1/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can you tell me foods to eat to reduce the acid in my urine and pain in my bladder and ureters? posted 2/04, updated 5/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I eat a diet as healthy as you suggest if I need to be
hospitalized for more than a day or two?
posted 3/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment My husband is having chemotherapy treatments and has lost his sense
of taste after one treatment. Are there any foods I can prepare that will give him some relief?
posted 9/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is there a good web site describing the nutrition related side effects from chemo drugs? posted 10/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Should I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many antioxidants? posted 7/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I use the diet recommendations on your web site and in your book to both increase my intake of cancer fighting foods for optimizing my cancer recovery and lose weight at the same time? posted 3/06
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment What tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted 11/06



These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

Contact Information:
Phone/Fax: 734/996-9260

P.O. Box 130221, Ann Arbor, MI  48113

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