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Nutrition Therapy and Support

As a patient newly diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can become easy to overlook the importance of nutrition. However, before beginning any treatment plan, your doctor will assess your nutritional state and will track your nutrition throughout treatment. If a nutritional problem arises, learning of it as soon as possible will ultimately lead to a better prognosis. 

A screening of a person's nutrition consists of the following:

 -        weight change within the last year
 -        changes in amount of food consumed and type of foods consumed
 -        ability to do daily activities such as getting in and out of bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed
 -        nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, dry mouth, changes in tastes/smells of food or pain

Once a screening is done, a doctor or dietitian is able to recommend solutions to malnutrition to avoid muscle or bone loss, to help fight infections, or help the body recover and heal. 

If a mesothelioma patient is showing signs of malnutrition, but isn't able to consume the foods orally, two methods for obtaining nutrition can be implemented.

1.)  Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition (also called tube feeding) gives the patient nutrients in a liquid form. This is done through a tube placed in the stomach or small intestine. The following feeding tubes may be used:

·        A nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose and down the throat into the stomach or small intestine. This kind of tube is used when enteral nutrition is only needed for a few weeks.

·        A gastrostomy tube is inserted into the stomach or a jejunostomy tube is inserted into the small intestine through an opening made on the outside of the abdomen. This kind of tube is usually used for long-term enteral feeding or for patients who cannot use a tube in the nose and throat.


2.)  Parenteral Nutrition

Parenteral nutrition is used when enteral nutrition cannot be used and it involves directing nutrients directly into the blood stream through a catheter. This means that the nutrients do not need to be process by the stomach or the intestines. For long term use, the catheter is placed in a large vein or in a vein in the arm for short term use.