Nutrition Therapy: Prevention & Intervention of Cancer-related Weight Loss
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How Can Nutrition Therapy Help You?
Cancer can affect your body’s ability to take in, digest, absorb, and metabolize nutrients properly. This can lead to cachexia, which is tumor-induced weight loss. Cachexia can cause your body to burn more calories than usual, break down muscle, decrease your appetite, and contribute to severe malnutrition. Furthermore, the conventional cancer treatment you receive, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can complicate matters and make it even more difficult for you to get the nourishment you need.
At CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern), our nutrition metabolic support team (which includes gastroenterologist Dr. Pankaj Vashi and several dietitians) deals with cachexia head on. Carolyn Lammersfeld (pictured), Vice President of Integrative Medicine at CTCA, says the team has significant experience in prevention and intervention of such cancer-related weight loss and malnutrition.
“Approximately one-third to half of the patients we see at CTCA come to our hospitals severely malnourished because they have either lost a lot of weight and then discovered what was wrong with them [they were diagnosed with cancer], or they have been treated at another facility where their care providers were not paying attention to their weight loss and nutrition issues,” says Lammersfeld. “At CTCA, we are proactive. We are determined to address weight loss due to cancer or cancer treatment.”
The team’s dietitians provide evidence-based diet recommendations, nutritional supplements and, if necessary, alternative nutrition therapies (e.g., tube feeding, IV nutrition) to help cancer patients receive essential nourishment. The nutrition therapy and guidance they offer can help you to maintain your strength; tolerate conventional cancer treatment; reduce the amount and intensity of treatment-related side effects you experience; and, avoid treatment interruptions so that you can receive the full amount of your treatment.