Leukemia Nutrition Therapy
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Nutrition Therapy for Leukemia
Many leukemia patients experience symptoms that can impact their nutrition intake and ability to tolerate treatment. The nutrition therapy team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is dedicated to helping you stay strong and nutritionally balanced, so you can maintain your quality of life while fighting the disease.
Every leukemia patient is scheduled to meet with a registered dietitian during their first visit to CTCA. During this visit, you are given a full assessment to evaluate your nutrition status based on factors like weight changes, food intake and nutrition impact symptoms.
Since leukemia affects each person differently, you’ll receive an individualized leukemia nutrition plan that is based on your unique health history, disease state and leukemia treatment regimen. Many patients are encouraged to follow a plant-based diet, including less red meat and processed foods, and more fish, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
From the beginning to the end of your leukemia treatment, your dietitian will monitor your nutrition status, and make modifications to your diet as needed. In addition to offering nutrition for cancer patients, our experts also provide education about healthy eating habits so you and your family can make good choices once you return home.
Nutrition Therapy After a Stem Cell Transplant
For leukemia patients who undergo a stem cell transplant, nutrition plays an essential role. After the transplant, your blood cell counts, including infection-fighting white blood cells, will be lower, making you more susceptible to infection. A strict adherence to food safety is important at this time.
For a period of time following the transplant, your nutrition therapy plan may include a neutropenic diet. Diet recommendations may include avoiding raw/undercooked foods (e.g., meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables or unpeeled fruits) or unpasteurized dairy products.
Managing Side Effects of Leukemia Treatment
Leukemia treatments can cause side effects, such as weight loss, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, low blood counts and increased risk of infection. By providing proper nutrition for cancer patients, we can minimize these side effects and avoid delays or interruptions in your treatment.
Your dietitian may use the following leukemia nutrition interventions to combat side effects throughout your treatment:
- Weight Loss: Your dietitian will monitor you closely to ensure you are maintaining a healthy weight, since weight loss can delay or interrupt your leukemia treatment.
- Fatigue: Your dietitian may recommend small, frequent meals and nutrient-dense foods to give you more energy.
- Nausea: Your dietitian may recommend a low-fat, bland diet of cold foods, ginger products, peppermint or sea bands to combat nausea. An hour before treatment, he/she may suggest you eat a high-protein, bland meal.
- Anemia: Your dietitian may recommend iron and folic acid supplements to boost your red blood cell count.
- Low Blood Counts: Your dietitian may recommend a well-balanced, protein-rich diet to help your blood counts return to a safe level.
- Constipation: Your dietitian may recommend you increase your fiber intake and stay hydrated to relieve constipation.
Leukemia Care Under One Roof
Your nutrition therapy team works closely with your oncologists and the other members of your CTCA care team. Our Patient Empowered Care® clinic allows you to enjoy greater comfort and convenience by bringing your medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager to you in one room.
Working together in close proximity allows for a fully integrated approach to treating leukemia. Your dietitian is able to share any specific nutrition challenges with other members of your care team, such as your hematologist and naturopathic clinician. Everyone works together to find solutions that meet your individual needs.
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