Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Nutrition therapy for colorectal cancer

nutrition therapy

Nutrition therapy for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer may impact the body's ability to digest and absorb vital nutrients. Over time, this may contribute to severe malnutrition and negatively impact your ability to tolerate cancer treatment. Our nutrition and metabolic support team, which includes a gastroenterologist and registered dietitian, may suggest various options to help you stay nourished, tolerate treatment better, limit treatment interruptions, prevent malnutrition and improve quality of life.

Treatment for colorectal cancer may also cause various side effects, including weight loss, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, low blood counts and increased risk of infection. These side effects may inhibit your ability to stay nourished and interfere with your treatment.

Our registered dietitians are available to work with you and the other members of your care team, including your gastroenterologist and naturopathic clinician, throughout your treatment. Together, they may suggest supplements and other therapies to support healthy digestion and nutrition, and help you manage side effects.

In some cases, colorectal cancer patients cannot take in food as they normally would, particularly during aggressive treatment. If eating solid food is not an option for you, your dietitian may offer supportive nutrition therapy, such as tube feeding (enteral nutrition) or IV nourishment (parenteral nutrition, total parenteral nutrition or TPN).

If we feel you would benefit from enteral or parenteral nutrition while undergoing colorectal cancer treatment, your dietitian will work with a doctor and pharmacist to support you and monitor your nutrition status. These clinicians and supportive staff will review your lab work daily and make modifications to the enteral or parenteral formula you receive, as needed.

What is nutrition therapy?

Many cancer patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms. The nutrition therapy team works with our patients to help restore digestive health, prevent malnutrition and provide dietary recommendations during treatment. Our goal is to help you stay strong and nourished, so you can continue with your cancer treatment.

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian. During this visit, one of our dietitians will give you a comprehensive nutritional assessment to identify daily goals for calories and protein. The dietitian will look at your health history, disease type and treatment plan to recommend nourishing foods during your cancer care.

The dietitian will monitor your nutrition status from the beginning to the end of your cancer treatment, making modifications as needed to help address side effects and prevent treatment interruptions before they arise.

Our dietitians communicate regularly with the oncologists and other members of the patient's cancer team. Working together in a team environment, all under one roof, allows for an integrated approach to treating cancer. Your dietitian may alert other members of your care team, such as your medical oncologist, to specific nutrition challenges you may be experiencing. Everyone works together to identify solutions designed to meet your individual needs.

We also provide information and classes about healthy eating habits to your caregivers and family members, so you can continue a healthy lifestyle at home.