Many cancer patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms. The Nutrition and Metabolic Support Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) helps 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 is scheduled to meet with a registered dietitian during the first visit to CTCA. During this visit, you are given a full assessment to identify daily goals for calories and protein. Your dietitian will look at your health history, disease type and treatment plan to recommend nourishing foods during your cancer care.
Your dietitian will monitor your nutrition status from the beginning to the end of your cancer treatment, making modifications as needed to minimize side effects and treatment interruptions before they arise.
Your dietitian communicates regularly with your oncologists and the other members of your team about your specific nutrition challenges. Working together in close proximity allows for a fully integrated approach to treating cancer, enabling our doctors and clinicians to find solutions that meet your individual needs.
Throughout your treatment, we'll help you find foods your body can tolerate, and recommend nourishing meal plans and dietary supplementation. We'll also provide information and classes about healthy eating habits to your caregivers and family members, so you can continue a healthy lifestyle at home.
The nutrition team at Western
Sharon Day serves as Director of Nutrition at CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center (Western). The nutrition and metabolic support team is comprised of licensed and registered clinical oncology dietitians. The team works closely with gastroenterologist Dr. Jeffrey Weber, who serves as Director of Gastroenterology & Metabolism.
“What we know from the literature is that patients who are well nourished tolerate treatment better and patients who are malnourished have more treatment interruptions,” says Day. "Diet is one risk factor that patients can grab hold of. A diagnosis of cancer can create losses. Choosing foods that are higher in nutritive value is one way that patients can feel empowered."
Collaboration with the culinary team
The nutrition team at Western works closely with the hospital's chefs to select ingredients high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. If you have special dietary needs or want a dish that is not scheduled on the daily menu, Chef Frank Caputo will accommodate you.
According to Chef Caputo: “Our emphasis is on providing high quality foods that promote health and wellness. We work with local vendors when available to obtain local organic produce. We choose a variety of whole grains, limit excess fat, sugar and salt, while emphasizing the natural flavors in food. All of our items are prepared from scratch."
Sometimes cancer treatment affects taste buds. The culinary team at Western uses spices and herbs pleasing to the patient’s palette. “Rallying the team to support patient care includes the culinary team!" explains Day. "Chef Caputo and I will schedule a joint meeting with patients and their caregivers to review food options and create ideas for meals that are pleasing to the palette."
Day adds: “The way we explain it is if you were keeping Mom at home, you could prepare everything—you have the kitchen, all the foods, you know where the stores are. There is no disruption. When you bring Mom in from 500 miles, we want to still be able to take care of her in the same way as at home—and better."