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Nutrition: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation

Nutrition and Surgery

Many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma choose to opt for surgery to remove the cancer. Surgery is invasive and can cause problem’s with a patient’s dietary health. Patients can have problem with swallowing, chewing or enjoying the taste of food. Even emotional distress can cause a person with mesothelioma to interrupt their normal dietary health. 

A patient that has recently had surgery should try to avoid foods that cause gas such as:

·        Carbonated drinks (sodas)

·        Beans

·        Peas

·        Broccoli

·        Cabbage

·        Brussels sprouts

·        Green peppers

·        Radishes

·        Cucumbers

A patient after surgery will have a difficult time eating and swallowing large quantities of food so the food that is given to a patient should be high in protein and calories. Even frying up food to increase a foods calories is an excellent idea. Gravies, mayonnaise, salad dressings and other condiments put on foods are good ways to increase the amount of calories in food.


High-protein and high-calorie foods are essential to making sure that a mesothelioma patient is getting enough nutrition in their diet. Some examples of foods high in calories and protein are:


·        Eggs

·        Milk (whole)

·        Cheese

·        Meat

·        Poultry

·        Ice Cream

·        Nuts

·        Peanut butter


Nutrition and Chemotherapy


Chemotherapy affects fast-growing cells and is used to treat cancer because cancer cells grow and divide quickly. Healthy cells that normally grow and divide quickly may also be killed. These include cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and hair follicles.

Chemotherapy may affect nutrition.

Chemotherapy during mesothelioma is known to cause many side effects.  One main side effect is malnutrition due to loss of appetite. Depending upon the anticancer given, these side effects may also include:

  • Inflammation and sores in the mouth
  • Changes in the way food tastes
  • Feeling full after only a small amount of food
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Nutrition Therapy may be used to treat these side effects. 


Nutrition and Radiation Therapy


Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can kill cancer cells and healthy cells where the radiation is being given. The amount of damage depends on the following:

  • The part of the body that is treated.
  • The total dose of radiation and how it is given.

Radiation therapy given in the chest or abdomen has side effects that cause nutrition problems. Most of the side effects begin a few weeks after radiation therapy begins and go away a few weeks after it is finished. Some side effects can continue for months or years after treatment ends.

The following are some of the more common side effects:

    • Loss of appetite.
    • Changes in the way food tastes.
    • Pain when swallowing.
    • Dry mouth or thick saliva.

o   Sore mouth and gums.

    • Narrowing of the upper esophagus, which can cause choking, breathing, and swallowing problems.
    • Infection of the esophagus.
    • Trouble swallowing.
    • Esophageal reflux (a backward flow of the stomach contents into the esophagus).
    • For radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis
    • Diarrhea.
    • Nausea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Inflamed intestines or rectum.
    • A decrease in the amount of nutrients absorbed by the intestines.

Radiation therapy may also cause tiredness, which can lead to a decrease in appetite.