Top 10 Reasons to see an Oncology Dietitian
An oncology dietitian works with people at risk for or diagnosed with any form of cancer. While not all have oncology dietitians have specialty certification, many have the Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CS0) credential (1).
There are many reasons to see an oncology dietitian, but here are our top 10 reasons:
1) To better manage the side effects of cancer treatment.
Cancer treatments come with a whole host of unfavorable side effects including: loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, mouth problems, and throat problems (2). An oncology dietitian can help people better manage these symptoms.
2) To feel better and stronger while fighting cancer.
Good nutrition plays an important role in fighting cancer (3). An oncology dietitian can help individualize nutrition care and ensure they get the right nutrition they need to keep up the fight.
3) To get enough calories even when it’s hard to eat.
The side effects of cancer treatment mentioned in reason #1 can makes it hard to eat. An oncology dietitian can make recommendations to maximize calories in the food you are able to eat. This helps to ensure you get the nutrition your body needs.
4) To get lower the risk of food born illness.
Those undergoing cancer treatments are immunocompromised. This means they are at a higher risk for getting sick from food born illness. An oncology dietitian can provide tips for food safety to lower the risk of food born illness.
5) To slow or stop unintended weight loss.
Individuals with cancer and undergoing cancer treatments burn more calories and are at an increased risk for unintended weight loss. An oncology dietitian can help provide support for stopping or slowing the rate of unintended weight loss.
6) To provide assistance with feeding tubes.
Some individuals undergoing cancer treatments need to start a feeding tube. An oncology dietitian can provide support in managing the feeding tube and minimizing complications or side effects.
7) To provide support for those at end of life.
An oncology dietitian can help support those on hospice or receiving palliative care. They can support both the patient and their families in managing nutrition concerns at the end of life.
8) To fight against cancer-related malnutrition.
Those with cancer are at an increased risk for malnutrition from both the cancer itself and associated treatments (4). An oncology dietitian can help sure nutrition needs are met to help prevent cancer-related malnutrition.
9) To maintain adequate hydration levels.
The side effects of cancer treatments (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, etc.) can increase the risk of dehydration (5). An oncology dietitian can provide tips to help increase fluid intake and maintain adequate hydration levels.
10) To live a long and healthy life.
An oncology dietitian can help improve quality of life during and after cancer treatments. Nutrition remains important life-long; even after the cancer fight is over. In fact, good nutrition is key to living a long and healthy life!
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1. Board Certification as a Specialist in Renal Nutrition. Commission on Dietetic Registration website. https://www.cdrnet.org/certifications/board-certification-as-a-specialist-in-oncology-nutrition. Accessed June 4, 2020.
2. Side Effects of Cancer Treatment. National Cancer Institute website. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects. Accessed June 14, 2020.
3. Nutrition for People with Cancer. American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/staying-active/nutrition.html. Accessed June 14, 2020.
4. Arends J, Baracos V, Bertz H, Bozzetti F, Calder PC, Deutz NE, Erickson N, Laviano A, Lisanti MP, Lobo DN, McMillan DC. ESPEN expert group recommendations for action against cancer-related malnutrition. Clinical nutrition. 2017 Oct 1;36(5):1187-96.
5. Dehydration and Lack of Fluids. American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/eating-problems/fluids-and-dehydration.html. Accessed June 14, 2020.