Nutrition, part 37: Nutrition for Cancer Prevention and Cancer Complications


Cathy discusses nutritional and lifestyle recommendations for cancer prevention. She also discusses key complications of cancer and cancer treatment, including decreased appetite and weight loss, xerostomia, taste alterations, and stomatitis. And the end of the video, Cathy provides a quiz to test your understanding of some of the key points she made in the video.

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:37 Cancer Prevention
  • 1:28 Cancer Complications
  • 2:21 Cancer Complications: Anorexia & Weight Loss
  • 4:01 Cancer Complications: Xerostomia
  • 4:58 Cancer Complications: Taste Alterations
  • 5:40 Cancer Complications: Stomatitis
  • 7:11 Quiz Time!

Full Transcript: Nutrition, part 37: Nutrition for Cancer Prevention and Cancer Complications

Hi, I'm Cathy with Level Up RN. In this video, I will be discussing nutrition for cancer prevention as well as nutritional guidance for complications of cancer and cancer treatment. At the end of the video, I'm going to give you guys a quiz to test your understanding of some of the key points I'll be covering. So definitely stay tuned for that. And if you have our Level Up RN Nutrition Flashcards, go ahead and pull them out so you can follow along with me and pay close attention to the bold red text on the back of the cards because those are the things that you are likely to see show up on a nursing school exam.

There are a number of nutritional and lifestyle interventions that have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer as well as other chronic diseases. Recommendations include eating more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, limiting intake of foods that are high in added fat, sugar, and salt, limiting intake of red meat, as well as processed, smoked, and nitrite cured meats, and limiting intake of salt-preserved foods such as ham, deli meat, and hot dogs. Individuals are also advised to limit alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight, engage in physical activity every day, and avoid smoking and nicotine use.

Cancer and cancer treatment can unfortunately result in a number of complications, including decreased appetite and weight loss, taste or smell alterations, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, xerostomia, stomatitis, and an increased risk for infection, including foodborne infections. So in this nutrition video playlist, which this video is a part of, we have videos that cover nutritional guidance for constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, and foodborne infections. So I won't spend time on those complications in this video. However, we will definitely be talking about decreased appetite and weight loss, xerostomia, taste alterations, as well as stomatitis.

Decreased appetite and weight loss is very common with cancer and cancer treatment, as well as other disorders such as AIDS. It's very important to remember that anorexia means decreased appetite, which is very different than anorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder. So individuals with anorexia or decreased appetite are advised to eat on a schedule, even if they're not feeling hungry. They should focus on eating foods that are high in protein and calories in order to rebuild tissue that has been damaged by cancer treatment. We don't want these individuals filling up on low-calorie foods and drinks. So some good examples of high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods include peanut butter, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. Individuals with decreased appetite are also advised to consume five to six smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three larger meals. For many people, appetite is better in the morning, so getting in more calories earlier in the day versus later in the day is often advised. Liquid meal replacements, such as protein drinks, are another good way to get in extra nutrition. And then protein-fortified milk can be used in recipes as well. And then finally, individuals with anorexia are advised to only sip small amounts of liquids with meals and keep the focus on eating solid foods, and then drink plenty of liquids between meals.

Next, we're going to talk about xerostomia, which is a fancy name for a dry mouth. So chemotherapy or radiation to the head or neck area can cause damage to the salivary glands, which in turn can cause xerostomia. In addition, certain medications used to treat cancer can also cause xerostomia. Individuals with xerostomia are advised to sip water throughout the day, eat tart or sweet foods, chew gum, or suck on candy to increase the production of saliva, moisten foods with gravy or sauce to make them easier to swallow, rinse out their mouth every one to two hours with a combination of water, baking soda, and salt, and avoid alcohol-based mouthwash because that actually reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth.

Cancer and cancer treatment can also cause taste alterations, such as causing food to have less taste, have a bitter taste, or a metallic taste, for example. Some things that may help with taste alterations include marinating foods, eating tart foods or drinks such as lemon custard, and adding extra flavor to foods such as herbs, sauces, and sweeteners. For individuals who are experiencing a metallic taste, using plastic silverware as opposed to metal can be helpful. And then finally, keeping the mouth clean with brushing and flossing can also help make food taste better.

Lastly, we're going to talk about stomatitis, which is where we have inflammation and the development of painful sores and ulcerations in the mouth. This occurs because cancer treatment targets fast-growing cells in the body, which unfortunately affects the cells that line the mouth and lips. Individuals with stomatitis are advised to choose foods that are easy to chew and swallow, such as custard, scrambled eggs, and milkshakes, for example. Individuals are also advised to cut their food into small pieces and take small bites, and then using a straw can help bypass those painful sores in the mouth. And then room temperature or cold foods are often less painful than eating hot foods. Individuals with stomatitis are also advised to avoid citrus, spicy, and salty foods, as well as alcohol. They should avoid raw vegetables as well as sharp, crunchy foods such as crackers. Rinsing the mouth out every one to two hours with a mixture of warm water, baking soda, and salt can help prevent the mouth from drying out too much. And then a key thing to remember is that alcohol-based mouthwashes and lemon glycerine swabs should be avoided. And then finally, using numbing sprays as prescribed can help decrease mouth pain as well.

All right. It's quiz time, and we went over a lot of important information. So I have five questions for you this time.

Question number 1. Is it best for a patient with anorexia to consume most liquids with meals or between meals?

The answer is between meals.

Question number 2. A patient with xerostomia should avoid alcohol-based mouthwash. True or false?

The answer is true. An alcohol-based mouthwash actually decreases saliva production, so it will make the mouth more dry.

Question number 3. Lemon glycerine swabs are recommended for a patient with stomatitis. True or false?

The answer is false. The citric acid in the swab would greatly irritate the oral mucosa.

Question number 4. A patient with a metallic taste can be advised to use silverware made of blank.

The answer is plastic or wood or pretty much any material other than metal.

Question number 5. Which of the following foods would be appropriate for a patient with stomatitis? A, tomato soup, B, lemon custard, C, scrambled eggs, or D, pita chips with hummus?

The answer is C, scrambled eggs, which are nice and soft. Tomato soup is hot and acidic. Lemon is also acidic. And then pita chips are sharp and crunchy. So those food choices would not be appropriate.

All right. That's it for this video. I hope it was helpful. Take care, and thank you so much for watching.

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