[ Vol. 10 No. 1 ] (January - April 2009 )
The dietitian's role in feeding cancer patients: An overview

Tilakavati Karupaiah
Dept of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences,
NationalUniversity of Malaysia


The role of the dietitian in feeding the cancer patient is very much related to the involvement of nutrition issues in the spectrum of cancer survival. This spectrum includes patients undergoing treatment and recovery, living after recovery, and, for some, living with advanced cancer. Each of these phases has different needs and challenges with respect to nutritional requirements but the primary site of the cancer and therapeutic methods influence need. Specifically, active cancer treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can change nutritional needs and alter the survivor’s intake and the body’s digestion, absorption, and use of food. Challenges such as achieving energy balance or preventing weight loss is an early goal in medical nutritional therapy. It becomes the most important nutritional goal for survivors at risk for unintentional weight loss in those receiving treatment directed to the alimentary tract. The involvement of the dietitian, therefore, should begin while active treatment is being planned and should focus on the patient’s current nutritional status, nutritional adequacy of the consumed diet and anticipated nutritional problems related to treatment. Assessment and planning for cancer survivors are crucial activities the dietitian performs in determining the rationale for nutrition support. In addition, this patient group and their family are often highly motivated to seek information about food choices, dietary supplement use, and complementary nutritional therapies to improve their treatment outcomes, quality of life, and survival. This presentation gives an overview of the role of the dietitian plays in providing nutritional care for the cancer patient.


 The 12th PENSA Congress
October 18-20 2007, Century Park Hotel. Manila, Philippines 
Page: 36