Nutrition therapy for multiple myeloma
For multiple myeloma patients who undergo a stem cell transplant, nutrition plays an essential role in their care plan. After the transplant, your blood counts, including infection-fighting white blood cells, will likely drop, increasing your risk of infection. A strict adherence to food safety is very important at this time.
For a period of time following the transplant, our registered dietitians may recommend a neutropenic diet. Diet restrictions may include avoiding raw/undercooked foods (e.g., meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables or unpeeled fruits) or unpasteurized dairy products.
Also, since vitamin D is important for multiple myeloma patients, our dietitians may work with your oncologists to have your vitamin D levels checked and may recommend supplements, if needed. Our dietitians will also work with you to help you get a healthy amount of calcium to protect your bones.
Managing side effects with nutrition therapy
Multiple myeloma and its treatments may cause side effects that affect your appetite, such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea, pain and fatigue. These side effects may result in weight loss and malnutrition, which may delay or interrupt your treatment.
Because nutrition for cancer patients is critical, our dietitians will closely monitor your status and may recommend various nutritional interventions to help combat multiple myeloma treatment-related side effects, such as:
- Weight loss: Our dietitians may need to monitor you closely to determine whether you are maintaining a healthy weight, since weight loss may delay or interrupt your multiple myeloma treatment.
- Constipation: Our dietitians may recommend that you increase your fiber intake and stay hydrated to help prevent or relieve constipation.
- Fatigue: Our dietitians may recommend small, frequent meals and nutrient-dense foods to help increase your energy levels.
- Nausea: Our dietitians may recommend a low-fat, bland diet of cold foods, ginger products, peppermint or sea bands to help combat nausea.
- Anemia: Our dietitians may recommend iron and folic acid supplements to help boost your red blood cell count.
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 the other members of the patient's cancer team. Working together in close proximity allows for a fully integrated approach to treating cancer. Your dietitian is able to 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.