I speak to you as a nutritional therapist specialized in cancer patients’ nutrition. I am extremely delighted that the importance of nutrition and nutritional care in oncology has been gaining ground in Slovakia. I think each cancer patient should receive counseling in terms of diet and correct choice of food, practical guidance regarding indications of various hospital diets in the form of nutritional recommendations or, if necessary, personalized meal plan.
Patients with various problems see me in the nutritional counseling center at National Cancer Institute, the majority coming with issues of malnutrition, i.e., undernourished, not able to take in enough energy and nutrients from their diet, which causes rapid weight loss. I am also seeing patients with different problems with digestion caused by surgical procedures, but also by adverse effects of anti-cancer treatment or concurrent non-oncological diseases from which they suffered even before they were diagnosed with cancer. Patients who rapidly lose weight, have problems eating, lower food intake and feel weak during treatment should see a specialist who will advise them how to combine foods and meals in order to improve their nutritional and health condition. The advantage of individual counseling with a specialist is that dietary regime and meal plan can be personalized according to the needs of each patient.
When thinking of cancer patients, the majority of people usually imagine patients who are weak, lose weight because of the treatment and the disease itself and suffer from other adverse effects of the treatment which limit their sufficient food intake. However, besides these patients, I see patients with the opposite problem in the nutritional counseling center, especially women with breast cancer. It’s not the rule but the majority of patients treated with long-term hormonal therapy experience uncontrollable weight gain caused by the treatment itself, hormonal changes, unsuitable diet as well as insufficient activity. From a long-term point of view, undesirable weight gain is a health risk not only in terms of oncological diseases, but also cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health complications. Even partial weight loss can significantly improve overall health, reduce the risk of complications and diseases and, of course, improve the quality of life of patients.
Besides treatment itself, which is the basic precondition of disease remission, nutritional therapy and correct diet are an integral part of treatment of oncological diseases and should be a part of patient care.
If you have any trouble with your diet during or after treatment, you can make an appointment in the Nutritional Counseling Center, door No. 63 in National Cancer Institute, by phone at 02/59378740. Don't be afraid to search for help with your diet. It might help improve your overall health, even if you suffer from rapid weight loss, digestive problems, problems with sufficient food intake or excess weight and obesity caused by disease or treatment.
Your nutritional therapist,
Petronela Forišek Paulová MSc.