During the initial diagnosis, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan. This plan may involve, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy.
These treatment methods are meant to kill cancer cells, but can sometimes also damage healthy cells. As a result, side effects can occur, some of these side effects can have a negative effect on your ability to eat:
- loss of appetite
- changes in weight
- sore mouth or throat
- dry mouth
- dental and gum problems
- changes in sense of taste or smell
- lactose intolerance
- fatigue and/or depression
Not everyone will develop these side effects, not every individual will react the same to the treatment.
When it comes to dieting during the treatment stage, recommendations may seem very different from usual suggestions for healthful eating. Dietitians usually recommend eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals; and cutting back on fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt. However, breast cancer patients are recommend to focus on eating high calorie foods with lots of protein, this may include drinking more milk, cream, cheese and cooked eggs. Other suggestions are to use more sauces and gravies, or changing your cooking methods to use more butter, margarine, or oil. Dietitians do suggest that breast cancer patients refrain from eating too much high-fiber foods because these can aggravate problems such as diarrhea or a sore mouth. The reason for the difference in suggested diets, is because breast cancer patients need to build up their strength which helps withstand the effects of the cancer and treatment.
What you should keep in mind before you go into treatment, is that many people have few or no eating related side effects. In the cases that side effect do occur, they are mild, and most go away after treatment is completed. Also, if you've been eating healthy before your treatment starts, you go into it with reserves that can help you keep up your strength, prevent breakdown of tissue, rebuild tissue, and enforce your natural defense system against infection.