Avoid Drinking With Meals
Liquids take up space in your stomach, which can cause a reduced calorie intake overall. Try to avoid drinking anything with meals to maximize the amount of food you consume, unless you have an issue such as dry mouth, thick saliva, or trouble swallowing that requires lubrication of the mouth.
Whatever you choose to eat, do your best to consume a mix of key macronutrients protein, fats, and carbs to fuel your bodys healing process. This might require a great deal of flexibility in your eating schedule, not to mention assistance from friends and family, but your recovery is well worth it.
Does Prostate Cancer Have Any Symptoms
Most men with early prostate cancer dont have any signs or symptoms.
One reason for this is the way the cancer grows. Youll usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through and presses against it, changing the way you urinate . But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesnt often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.
If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem. But its still a good idea to get it checked out. Possible changes include:
- difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
- a weak flow when you urinate
- a feeling that your bladder hasnt emptied properly
- dribbling urine after you finish urinating
- needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
- a sudden need to urinate you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate or spreads to other parts of the body , it can cause other symptoms, including:
- back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
- problems getting or keeping an erection
- blood in the urine or semen
- unexplained weight loss.
These symptoms can all be caused by other health problems. But its still a good idea to tell your GP about any symptoms so they can find out whats causing them and make sure you get the right treatment, if you need it.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain
People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.
If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.
Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:
- Trouble with memory and speech
Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.
Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.
Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.
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Will Radiation Therapy Make Me Radioactive
No. After external beam radiotherapy treatment, you will not be radioactive. You can continue to enjoy the same contact with your family and friends as before your diagnosis without fear of exposing them to radiation. If you are treated with internal radioactive sources, you will stay in a protected room until the source of radiation is removed. If you need this type of radiation, your radiation oncologist will explain it to you in detail.
If You Want To Try To Stop Gaining Weight
- Ask if you need to limit fluid if your ankles are swollen. If you have swelling in your abdomen , limiting fluids may not help and you should call your cancer care team.
- Choose healthier, lower calorie foods.
- Cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit your salt intake.
- Limit food portions especially with high-calorie foods.
- Read food labels to become more aware of portion sizes and calories. Be aware that low-fat or non-fat doesnt always mean low-calorie.
- Try to walk daily if you can and if its OK with your doctor. Talk with your cancer care team about referral to a physical therapist to help you safely increase activity levels.
- Ask about meeting with a dietitian.
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Dont Restrict Yourself To Certain Foods
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause a host of side effects that make it difficult or unpleasant to eat, including nausea, taste changes, and mouth sores, among other things. But many patients, as soon as they receive a cancer diagnosis, decide to restrict their diets in hopes of offsetting years of bad eating habits, Ms. Stella explains.
All of a sudden theyre going vegetarian, saying theyll never eat sugar again, or everything has to be organic, she says. But they dont know how chemo or radiation will affect them, and then they start struggling. Its not a good idea to restrict your diet when treatment already cuts down on what youll want or be able to eat.
Research suggests that eating a variety of foods is better for your health, Ms. Gerdes adds. Unless your doctor advises you to avoid specific foods for medical reasons, you should not restrict certain foods or nutrients, since they may not change the course of your cancer.
How Can I Prevent Hair Loss
Radiation therapy can cause hair lossalso known as alopeciabut only in the area being treated. For example, if you are receiving treatment to your hip, you will not lose the hair from your head. However, radiation to your head may cause you to lose some or all of the hair on your scalp. Many patients find that their hair grows back again after the treatments are finished, but accepting the loss of hairwhether from scalp, face, or bodycan be a hard adjustment. The amount of hair that grows back will depend on how much radiation you receive and the type of radiation treatment your doctor recommends. Other types of treatment, such as chemotherapy, also can affect how your hair grows back. For example, if your radiation therapy is for palliative care, your hair probably will grow back slowly. However, if the goal of your radiation therapy is to cure rather than to relieve the symptoms of your cancer, then your hair may not grow back, and if it does, it probably will have a very fine texture.
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Will My Appetite Be Affected
Many side effects can cause problems with eating and digesting food, but you always should try to eat enough to help damaged tissues rebuild themselves. It’s very important not to lose weight during radiation therapy so that your body can heal. Try to eat small meals often and eat a variety of different foods. Your doctor or nurse can tell you whether your treatment calls for a special diet and a dietitian will have a lot of ideas to help you maintain your weight.
If you have pain when you chew and swallow, your doctor may advise you to use a powdered or liquid diet supplement. Many of these products, available at the drugstore without prescription, are made in a variety of flavors. They are tasty when used alone, or they can be combined with other foods, such as pureed fruit, or added to milkshakes. Some of the companies that make diet supplements have produced recipe booklets to help you increase your nutrient intake. Ask your dietitian or pharmacist for further information.
What side effects occur with radiation therapy to the head and neck area? Some people who are having radiation to the head and neck have redness and irritation in the mouth, a dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, changes in taste or nausea. Try not to let these symptoms keep you from eating.
Intermittent Fasting And Radiation Therapy
When you are ready to eat, you need to make healthy choices. But it is also good to let your body rest and not have to process any foods for a while during radiation.
Some studies have looked at intermittent fasting in cancer patients. Overall, the results are promising. In general, some types of fasting promote autophagy that improve cancer survival rates.
If you dont know what intermittent fasting and autophagy are, I wrote an article about them called: Fasting: How to Eat and Be Healthy.
Intermittent fasting is especially beneficial for those undergoing abdominal or pelvic radiation. Studies suggests that there may be less intestinal side effects in pancreatic cancer patients who fast before treatments.
So, dont worry too much if you are just not up to eating on occasion. There were times during my treatments that I just didnt feel like eating. And that can be okay.
But if you dont feel like eating a lot and are losing weight, be sure to give your oncologist or dietitian a call. You also need to be able to maintain your weight. Losing weight right now, when you are going through treatments, isnt necessarily a good thing.
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What Are Other Possible Early Side Effects From Radiation Therapy
Other early side effects you might have usually depend on where you get the radiation.
Radiation therapy to the head, neck, or parts of the digestive system can make you lose your appetite. But it’s important to keep eating a healthy diet while youâre having treatment to keep your body strong.
- Try eating five or six small meals spread out through the day instead of three large ones.
- Try new recipes or foods.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand. It will help you eat when you’re hungry rather than waiting for mealtimes and maybe losing your appetite.
Before you start radiation to your head or neck, see your dentist for a thorough exam. Radiation can cause problems in your mouth that include:
- Mouth sores
- Lack of saliva
- Trouble swallowing
- Jaw stiffness
Tell your cancer team about any of these problems so they can help you feel better. To help manage these side effects:
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods.
- Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol.
- Brush your teeth often with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush.
Radiation therapy to the head can sometimes cause hearing problems. One reason might be that it hardens the wax in your ears. Let your doctor know if you have trouble hearing.
Fertility and Sexual Issues
Women shouldnât try to get pregnant during radiation therapy because it can hurt the baby. It also can stop periods and cause other symptoms of menopause.
On Some Days Its Enough To Just Eat
Ideally, Ms. Stella explains, patients currently undergoing treatment will use a modified version of the USDAs MyPlate icon to guide their nutritional intake. But instead of splitting the plate down the middle with protein and carbohydrates occupying one side and fruits and vegetables on the other these patients should aim for a peace sign consisting of equal portions of fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and lean protein. Its beneficial for cancer patients to increase the amount of protein they eat, since adequate protein intake is particularly important to avoid losing lean muscle mass when dropping weight.
This goal changes, however, when patients dont feel well enough to eat much of anything.
For those having difficulty maintaining their weight, it can get to the point where any calorie is really more important than being picky about food choice, Ms. Stella says. Too much concern about types of food can give the patient a lot of anxiety. Just eat.
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How To Manage Decreasing Weight Loss Due To Cancer
- Increase the amount of food you eat You are losing your body weight and your body needs more and more nutrients and vitamins. The body needs energy for itself and also for the cancer cells which are multiplying day by day. So you must eat more and more. Your diet should contain a maximum amount of nutrients and you should have only energy-giving food. If you are not able to eat more just because of a sore throat or another issue in your mouth you must opt for drinks, soups, and soft food which are easier to eat. You should have food you are easy to chew and intake.
- Avoid protein-rich food The protein is required by your body the most but you must avoid protein-rich food. As you may experience nausea and vomiting just after the treatment. And if you have had protein-rich food your body will develop a dislike for that particular food item. So you can have the protein-rich food a few days later or in a small amount. You can have direct protein drinks and endure mass drinks which can balance the amount of protein required by your body.
- Be stress-free- You should be stress-free and not focus on the results a lot. The medication only works when the person himself or herself has the burning desire within themselves. You must be like a fighter ready you defect the disease with your willpower. The stress will cause no good and will only deteriorate your condition and will lead you to worse. You are advised to be happy and spend more and more good time with your family and friends.
Do All Cancer Patients Lose A Lot Of Weight
Is this the case for all cancer patients?”
Not all cancer patients lose a lot of weight. In fact, there are some cancers that result in weight gain during treatment. Certain types of chemotherapy, hormone therapy and medicines, such as steroids, can cause the body to retain fluids or increase a patients appetite so that they eat more, causing weight gain. However, for many patients the type of cancer and its treatment make it hard for them to eat well enough to take in all the nutrients required to maintain weight. A patient may seem to be eating enough, yet can still lose weight.
Cancer and cancer treatments can affect taste, smell, appetite and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. Malnutrition is common in people with cancer and occurs when theres an imbalance of energy, protein or other nutrients.
Malnutrition can reduce a patients strength, function and quality of life. If a cancer patient is not able to eat their usual amount of food, or needs to gain or maintain weight, it is helpful to take in more energy without having to eat more. Adding extra protein, fats and sugar at mealtimes, or nutritional supplements, may help maintain weight. A patients doctor or dietitian can help with dietary advice.
Why Do I Feel Fatigued
During radiation therapy, the body uses a lot of energy healing itself. Stress related to your illness, daily trips for treatment, and the effects of radiation on normal cells all may contribute to fatigue. Most people begin to feel tired after a few weeks of radiation therapy. Feelings of weakness or weariness will go away gradually after your treatment is finished, says Dr. Wilson.
You can help yourself during radiation therapy by not trying to do too much. If you feel tired, limit your activities and use your leisure time in a restful way. Do not feel that you have to do all the things you normally do. Try to get more sleep at night, and rest during the day if you can.
If you have been working a full-time job, you may want to continue. Although treatment visits are time consuming, you can ask your doctor’s office or the radiation therapy department to help by scheduling treatments with your workday in mind.
Some patients prefer to take a few weeks off from work while they’re receiving radiation therapy others work a reduced number of hours. You may want to have a frank conversation with your employer about your needs and wishes during this time. You may be able to agree on a part-time schedule, or perhaps you can do some work at home.
Questions To Ask Your Health Care Team
Can this cancer or its treatment cause weight gain?
Can my cancer treatment cause edema?
What are ways I can track my weight during cancer treatment?
Who should I tell if I notice changes in my weight?
Is there an oncology dietitian and/or other specialists that I can talk with about making food choices and my exercise routine?
Are there certain exercises I should avoid due to my diagnosis or its treatment?
Who can I talk with if I need help coping with stress or other emotional effects of cancer?
Early And Late Effects Of Radiation Therapy
- Early side effects happen during or shortly after treatment. These side effects tend to be short-term, mild, and treatable. Theyre usually gone within a few weeks after treatment ends. The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
- Late side effects can take months or even years to develop. They can occur in any normal tissue in the body that has received radiation. The risk of late side effects depends on the area treated as well as the radiation dose that was used. Careful treatment planning can help avoid serious long-term side effects. Its always best to talk to your radiation oncologist about the risk of long-term side effects.