Lifespan Cancer Institute

Chemotherapy and Nutrition

Cancer and some treatments for cancer may cause you to lose your appetite. However you need to continue to nourish your body to avoid malnutrition and weight loss. Your body requires nutrients from food to repair cells and to build new tissue while undergoing cancer treatment.

Tips to maintain proper nutrition:

  • Ask family and friends to help you shop for food if you tire easily. Keep a supply of foods that you like and require minimal effort to prepare. Cheese sticks, cereal, nuts, trail mix, fruit, boxed juices and frozen entrees are some examples.
  • Ask family and friends to help you make large batches of nutritious meals that you can freeze for later use. This makes it easier to have healthy meals on days when you have less energy.
  • Do not try to lose weight during treatment. Your body needs nourishment to recover from the treatment. If you weigh more than your ideal weight, you may lose weight once you feel better.
  • Good calorie sources are whole, natural foods dense with nutrients. As a general rule, avoid large doses of vitamins and minerals. Check with your doctor or nurse before taking any medicines, vitamins, minerals or herbs not prescribed by a doctor during your cancer treatment. You may need to avoid some of these.
  • You may ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to a registered dietitian. Our cancer center's dietitians are board certified in oncology nutrition. The dietitian will be able to individualize your nutrition plan, accounting for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes. The services of a dietitian may be especially helpful if you have gastrointestinal, lung, head or neck cancer; or if you have a feeding tube.