Mesothelioma Treatments

Proper Nutrition During Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for many types of cancer, including mesothelioma. It consists of administering powerful toxins into the body that destroy malignant cells. Common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a complete loss of appetite. What makes this kind of treatment difficult is the fact that during cancer recovery, the patient needs all the proper nutrients in order to regain full strength.

Many medications used during chemotherapy can kill healthy cells in addition to destroying cancerous cells. This is why cancer patients receiving chemotherapy often lose their hair, appetite and experience nausea and vomiting. The latter two symptoms can be controlled through the use of additional drugs as well as tetrahydrocannabinol (the active substance in marijuana), enabling the patient to eat.

Specific Problems

In addition to nausea and vomiting, specific conditions that are common to chemotherapy include diarrhea and constipation. Because of this, it can be difficult for mesothelioma and other cancer patients to keep food in their digestive tracts long enough to absorb the necessary nutrients. It is important for patients to eat foods that are high in nutrients and contain as many calories and proteins as possible.

What to avoid:

  • Greasy and deep-fried foods
  • Excessively hot, spicy meals
  • Foods high in refined sugar
  • Carbonated beverages and anything with caffeine

What to choose:

  • Whole-grain bread, crackers and pasta
  • Bananas and mashed potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Berries and citrus fruits (or fruit juices)
  • Dried fruits
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cabbage)
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds)
  • Legumes (beans, peas and peanuts)
  • Plenty of water and decaffeinated green and black tea

Patients who are dealing with constipation need to make sure they are drinking enough fluids. Constipation is frequently the result of dehydration and not having enough water to move wastes along the digestive tract.

The Importance of Protein

While chemotherapy can destroy the body's tissues, it is important that enough protein is ingested so such tissues can be repaired. Patients who are dealing with a poor appetite also need to maximize their calories, as the rebuilding process requires a great deal of energy.

Whole grains are an excellent source of calories, but dairy foods such as butter and yogurt (not the low-fat kind) contain contain a lot more protein. Recent studies also suggest that consumption of yogurt may actually strengthen the immune system, which may be helpful for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Another significant source of protein that is safe and nutritious is salmon and other cold-water fish. Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are high in antioxidants. However, make certain that your salmon was caught in the wild and not farmed. "Farmed" salmon are raised in very unhealthy conditions and consuming such fish can do far more harm than good.

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