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Recommendation Nutrition During Cancer Treatment

Good nutrition is important before, during and after cancer treatment to help you feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have important nutrients the body needs.

The American Cancer Society provides information and resources about the benefits of good nutrition, how cancer and cancer treatment can affect nutrition, and how to cope with eating problems.

You can also check out our Nutrition Support Group that features more resources and tips about nutrition during cancer treatment.

Hi, I'm trishalynne

I have problems getting the nutrition I know I need. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 1996, but I had the symptoms for nearly a decade beforehand. I was diagnosed with IBS-D (a severe case) which is triggered by eating excessive amounts of fruit and vegetables, and by stress. I also have diabetes, triggered by the corticosteroids used to treat me when I developed asthma on my job in 2007. As a Celiac, there are more foods on my “NO” list than on my “YES” list. To control my illnesses, I take about 20 pills per day on average, and that is NOT counting the Advil I take for my leg/bone pain from my chemo. I take vitamins for my hair growth/maintenance, when I can fit them in (I have NOT lost any hair, but my hair thinned when my thyroid was removed a year ago, and I have 4 more chemos to go- so even though my hair looks good now, who knows what is to come). My endocrinologist wanted me to go to a dietician, but when I made him a list of what I could and could NOT eat, he scrapped the whole idea. The current rules are as follows: if I am hungry, I eat. If I am not, I don’t. I drink as much water and iced tea as I like (my tea has 1/4c turbinado per gallon of tea, and a piece of citrus for flavor). As I bled for nearly three months before my hysterectomy, I eat meat daily, and steak when I want it, as iron pills upset my stomach. That is what is working.

  • Mon Sep 3, 2012
Hi, I'm Pamela A.

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2012. I have always been a good eater. I love food. I was told that cetain foods help with tolerating the chemo. I am trying to find out if this is true and if so, what is a good nutritious plan?

  • Sat Sep 8, 2012
Hi, I'm Kay Kramer

Nutrition and diet is fortunately something I’ve had and maintained all of my life and I’m told “it has helped me live with my seizure conditions and islet cell cancer—with the affects of radiation, chemo, age, and system deterioration from anti-seizure medicines all my life.”

  • Sat Sep 8, 2012

I know how hard it is to figure out what to eat….My first chemo treatments I was constipated a lot, so had to work on that. This seond round it is just the other way around, pills for diarreah,,had to have fluids a couple times I got so weak started using a walker….It seems to run in cycles, do the chemo a couple times, next week start getting tired then need fluids….but we are doing ok, my blood work in ok shape been having to wath the magnesium shot for that. and red blood cells a shot for that…I know that the potatoe soup and grits have been my favorites when nothing else looks good. last two days I have been able to eat table food. If I watch it spaghetti that is not too seasoned. ha eggs,cottage cheese… tuna fish…. so off and on I eat a little weird..prayers for all…I’ve lost 30 plus pounds in the past year, but thats the fluids mostly lost…..

  • Sat Sep 15, 2012
Hi, I'm Dorothy D W.

I have stage 4 colon cancer. My surgeon says he got it all and I was resectioned, but I know I need to work hard to stay alive. There was some in my lymph nodes. The pet scan is iffy, but I was still recovering from the surgery when I got it so the inflammation could be from the healing process. I go to a nutrition expert. He does blood tests and is a doctor of oriental medicine. It’s vital that you starve the cancer cells by avoiding too much sugar. The average American consumes 120 pounds of sugar a year. Sugar consumption stresses the liver, too, which is how all of us process our chemotherapy treatments. I’ve been on curcumin, which is derived from tumeric, a spice used in curries.It’s a natural form of chemotherapy. I’m planning to do vitamin c infusion. I do very well fighting off colds and influenza with vitamin C orally, so I’m hoping for the best. My acupuncturist treats my liver during my chemo treatments and helps me with the nausea. I have had two chemotherapy treatments and so far my weight is stable. I can’t eat anything but broth and saltines when I’m on the chemo every two weeks, and I take nausea medicine the whole time. Within a couple of hours after I turn in my chemotherapy pump, I can eat normally again. Not everyone responds to acupuncture, but not everyone has my weak stomach either. I used to have Crohn’s colitis, but it has been in remission for years. The Crohns inflammation interacted with some bad genes from a paternal uncle who survived colon cancer at age 43. He was operated on back in the 1970s – no pet scans, and he had no chemo. He is still alive and just turned 80, so there’s hope for me.

  • Sat Sep 15, 2012
Hi, I'm gfgirl

I am also a celiac for 20 years plus other auto immune diseases and 2 years into stage 4 lymphoma.Digestive and systemic enzymes given by a natural practioner have made me healthier thatn m any time in my life. I limit my sugar, eat lots of vegs, some meat, eggs, yogurt, and try to get as much organic as possible
http://www.enzymeformulations.com/learnmore/founder.asp

This is a site for the type that I have used- they will refer yo to a practioner who is near your local. I hope this will help.

  • Sun Sep 23, 2012
Hi, I'm caroline s.

I am new to all of this cancer stuff. Just diagnosed with Melanoma. Removed a 6cm tumor from my armpit. I am still recovering from surgery and will meet with my oncology dr the end of this week to see what stage I am and what treatment I will be receiving.

  • Mon Oct 1, 2012
Hi, I'm Shirley Grove

I was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in 2000, all okay till sept 2012, now have stage 3 bowel cancer. Had a port put in my chest yesterday for chemotherapy in 2 weeks, feel like my chest has been ripped about, so sore. Hope I can get through this, am trying to be strong for my family. Work is bothering me if I am coming back, I dont know. Six months of chemo treatment every two weeks.

  • Tue Oct 16, 2012
Hi, I'm Michael F.

This is Mike’s wife, posting for myself. Mike was diagnosed with stage 4, had the port put in, has completed 6 chemo’s. He has had a complete response, there is no tumor in recent scan. He will continue with 5 weeks of radiation and the chemo pump 5 days a week, for 5 weeks. It is possible to work through it, he is. I wish you good luck, Shirley. I hope you get through it without incident, he has had no side effects. Chemo is much better than it used to be. I wish you well. I will pray for you.-CF

  • Fri Oct 19, 2012
Hi, I'm Lauren M.

When going through treatment for breast cancer, I dropped iron count and had to find other ways to maintain it as meat and my stomach didn’t cooperate I found time release iron tablets that had no reflux, no side effects. Adding in more green leafy veggies helped – light, without any mayo or milk based dressings – usually some light olive oil. It helped raise my iron up two points in six weeks!

  • Sat Oct 20, 2012
Hi, I'm Paige C P.

I am 47 year old female with stage 4 lung cancer. I am having trouble getting on a regular bowel regimen. I take stool softness and corrector or dulcolax. In desperation I will take a giant cup full of. milk of Magnesia. I once was so regular. Having constipation/diarrhea can make me bed bound sick. Any suggestions on how to keep from going to each extremes

  • Mon Oct 22, 2012
Hi, I'm Linda F S.

Was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Sept. 11, 2012. Trying hard to get through and understand this entire journey. Have gone through the final test before chemo starts. I have heard so many stories about chemo and the effects. Just going to pray that it will be alright and that I get through these next 4 months with very little complications. Surgery after chemo and possible radiation. To God be the Glory!

  • Sun Oct 28, 2012
Hi, I'm Esther L.

Dear Page
I’m taking colon health & citrucel everyday,it works for me.

  • Sat Dec 29, 2012
I'm Maureen, and I'm living with Colon Cancer

Shirley Grove – Shirley I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer (1 lymph node invaded) in May 2010. Had surgery that month to remove about half of my colon with the tumour. After that I had 8 cycles of chemo infused through a port which was put into my chest. The port will soon settle down and you will not be sore for long. I found the port to be a God-send – it is so much better to be hooked up through the port than to have the nurse all over you looking for a vein that will not collapse ! And hooking up the port is not painful – hooking into a vein is ! I want to tell you that I am now 2 years in remission with no sign of recurrence. My port was removed at the end of 2010 when my treatment ended. Had annual MRI last month and all is fine. Hang on in there – you WILL beat this. Thinking of you, Maureen

  • Sat Jan 5, 2013
Hi, I'm Robert L.

With being diagnosed with Carcinoid Syndrome (tumors) back in 2009, I searched the internet for any diet / nutritional help. What I’d found was a diet that mainly consists of rice, mashed & baked potatoes, steak, beef, fish, chicken, turkey, bananas, white bread toast, bagels, english muffins, applesauce, pretzels and water. It seems to help but does anyone have any other ideas on what to eat?

Thanks,
Robert L.

  • Mon Jan 14, 2013

for celiacs go to website:

www.livingwithout.com

good information and gluten free recipes

  • Tue Mar 19, 2013
I'm Pam G and I'm in the process of defeating Stage 2 Breast Cancer

Diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer in February 2013 after a routine yearly mammogram and ultrasound. Had a lumpectomy and also removed the lymph nodes under my left arm in which they found cancer in 1 out of the 13 they tested. Had a CT Scan and a Bone Scan which both came back negative. Went back for a left breast mastectomy where clean borders were found. And now it’s decision time. I can have just hormone therapy or, I can have chemo then hormone therapy. Since there was a lymph node involved it looks like I will be looking at chemo. I would like to get through all 6 treatments they recommend, but whatever I can do is a plus…I am in pretty good physical shape other than this issue so am hoping all will go well. Gonna try to eat right and exercise so we’ll see.

  • Thu Mar 21, 2013
Hi, I'm Jeffrey F.

I was diagnosed on Thanksgiving day with neuroendocrine cancer, stage IV, in my pancreas, liver, and kidney. No symptoms until that day. I completely changed my diet to fruits, vegetables, and quinoa. I still feel great with no symptoms, but I am told that I need to go on Sutent, which will probably have some strong side effects. If anyone else is on Sutent please advise, however in reading everyone’s notes, it does not appear Sutent would be the drug of choice.

  • Sat Mar 23, 2013
Hi, I'm Mary F C.

To Jeffrey. I have renal cell cancer and when diagnosed 7 yrs. ago Sutent was the only drug they could try. It was for something else but my doctor said it worked sometimes for renal cell.
I was on it a year and had good response
but had to try something else after a
year. Anyway, it was hard to get used to
the side effects—-dry skin & mouth, no
taste to speak of, tiredness, a little
nausea, and a few more I can’t remember.
All in all, I adjusted and it was worth it in the end.
Good luck to you and just keep a
POSITIVE ATTITUDE!! That really helps!

  • Sat Mar 23, 2013
Hi, I'm Jan L. Noorda

I was diagnosed just last week of my stage 4 colorectal cancer. It is all so new to me. I have always been a healthy women, never smoked, drank very little, always ate healthy no red meat, lately no meat at all.
I start my chemo this next week. By what I have read here, there are alot of illness with this. Scared, but will go thru anything to survive this. Im not going to let this cancer take control of my I will take control of it. How ever long it takes.
Please give me advice on how to cope with this battle of feeling like no one knows how alone and scared one must feel. Im trying to stay strong with friends and family, but when Im by myself I have so many fears.

  • Sat Mar 23, 2013
Hi, I'm viju

Is it okay to consume juices from tetra packs and ready made soups? My mouth is so dry I yearn for liquids all the time. Is it okay to drink coffee and tea through the day? I am diabetic and since my sugar level has gone high after chemo, I am taking Metformin Hydrochloride Extended release tablets 1000mg, thrice a day. This seems to make me go weak at times….how often should I monitor my sugar levels?

  • Sun Mar 24, 2013

Just diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, I start chemo (TCH) Tues 3/26/13, we’re doing chemo before surgery, very nervous. Any helpful hints?

  • Mon Mar 25, 2013
I'm Holly C., and I'm in remission and maintenance for follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Grade 1-2, Stage IV-A.

I see a lot of comments asking for help with various cancer situations. May I suggest that you might like to find a discussion board for your particular kind of cancer, where you would have a better chance of finding people going through the same things? One place I’ve found good discussions is the cancer forums site. Scroll down the page to find the list of topics. And hugs to you all!

http://www.cancerforums.net/index.php

  • Sat Mar 30, 2013
IAH
IAH
Hi, I'm IAH
IAH

Jan, I know how you feel. I was diagnosed about a month ago with stage 2. They did surgery and thankfully no lymph nodes involved, but they still want me to do chemo. Not sure why. Prayer has helped me cope with much of the fear and uncertainty. I try to stay busy and concentrate on the blessings. Don’t let the evil thoughts get you. FIGHT!!!!!!! Praying for you.

  • Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi, I'm KATHY G.

I had stage 3 colon cancer after lots of chemo and radation then surgery in 2010 I had a pet/ct scan in march everything was fine but…. they found some spots on my thyroid they did a biopsoy and said they couldn’t rule out cancer so now I have to go see another dr. may 8th to set up a surgery to have it removed and after that I don’t know I’ve lost a lot of my family to cancer and none of it the same kind.so prayers for everybody and FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!!!

  • Sat Apr 27, 2013
Hi, I'm Sue Burns

I have stage llbreast cancer. Just had two surgerys now chemo is next. Im so scared about the being sick. Hopefully everything will not be as stressful as Im thinking.One day at a time.

  • Sun May 5, 2013
Hi, I'm Sue Burns

I have stage llbreast cancer. Just had two surgerys now chemo is next. Im so scared about the being sick. Hopefully everything will not be as stressful as Im thinking.One day at a time.

  • Sun May 5, 2013
Hi, I'm Michael F.

Christine, Mike’s wife. Stage 4 colon cancer, going through 2nd go with chemo, after 2nd operation. We had a rough February, with an omental necrosis after he had to the colostomy reversed, his bowel just about all removed, and an ileostomy. The chemo is very effective with fatigue being the only side effect. He cut the lawn yesterday, made meatballs, barbequed, went to work for an hour, watched the ball game. He was annoyed how tired he was. I told him it was a blessing, if that was the worst thing he could say, he was a lucky, lucky man. Chemo can be tolerated, keep an open mind and perhaps you will be one of the lucky ones. I will pray for you all.

  • Mon May 6, 2013
Hi, I'm Renee

I went completely plant based after I was diagnosed. While it is extreme, all the research I did showed that meat, dairy, sugar and processes foods feed Cancer and GBOMBS – Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds feed healthy cells. I recovered quickly after a double mastectomy, never was nauseous during Chemo and did well through Radiation. I have lost 20+ pounds (I am small framed so this is huge)

Check out the link below http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article20.aspx
and “The China Study”

Even adding more healthy foods and limiting less healthy foods is a great step in the right direction towards good health and longevity.

  • Sat May 11, 2013
Hi, I'm Sandra L C.

Everyone of you that is scared to start your Chemo treatments. I was too, very scared. My loving nurse told me it is OK to be scared of the unknown. I had my first treatment last Wednesday. Saturday was a very bad day for me. Then Sunday and so far, today, has been good. No nausea. Everyone’s Chemo treatment is different. My problem is the diarrhea. I had my small colon removed before Chemo. I’m struggling with what to eat. It takes months for your digestive system to get back to normal after the surgery. I have no complaints, however. We are all in this together. We will win the battle!!!!

  • Mon May 20, 2013
I'm Ron Rogers, and I support someone with cancer

My wife was diagnosed with colan cancer. She had an operation to remove the mass. To my understanding it went well and the lympnoides that were removed and tested were clean. She was referred to the cancer institute where the doctor started her on FU-5 for 5 days a month for a total of 6 times. She started having side effects after her first round and she got more side effects and increased in intensity after each round. After the 4th round. She moved down to the list of serious side effects where I ended up taking her to emergency with hives and a rash spread over her entire body they kept her in the hospital for a week it’s been more then a month and she still has some visible signs of the rash.

  • Mon May 27, 2013
Hi, I'm Michael F.

Mike just completed his 4th chemo in 2nd round. He got the chills, for a couple of hours, had to go to bed with a sweatshirt, jacket, 3 blankets and socks. he was just shaking with cold. He got up later and was much better, but slept all evening. We are making it through, and dealing with the problems as they come. All he wants to eat is bagels and Italian sandwiches. Go figure! He is ALIVE, a year later, and that is more than they offered us at the time of diagnosis. God bless each and every one of you. Christine.

  • Wed May 29, 2013
Hi, I'm Vern S.

I would like to know if anyone with CLL has been here, what treatment you chose and how it worked for you. I was diagnosed with CLL Dec. 2010 and am now facing the task of deciding on treatment and treatment type. My platelets are low, my lymphocytes are high, my lymphnodes are not at alarming an alarming size nor my spleen and I still feel alright. My numbers indicate treatment but not my symptoms. I .

  • Thu Aug 15, 2013
Hi, I'm Linda J M.

To Sue Burns I too have stage II breast cancer and have just finished my 3rd chemo treatment. My advice is listen to the Dr. and Nurses if I do what they tell me and try not to manage my self
(I am an RN with minimal chemo/cancer background)I do better.I also will have radiation treatment after my chemo is done. Just get rest, drink the fluids and eat when you can. I have found iced drinks-water, grape flavored or berry flavored drinks do best.Juice bars are good but you have to becareful to get juices and not “drinkss”. I also drink special K Breakfast To Go for about 3 days after chemo. Everyone warned me about the Nulasta injection for wbc. I was instructed at the clinic to take Caritin day of injection and then 3 more days to decrease bone pain- It seemed like this worked. I wish the best for you.

  • Wed Sep 18, 2013
i deo not want my last name for everyone to see

I pray every day after the first two chemo treatments I was so sick now I am much better

  • Fri Oct 11, 2013
Hi, I'm Brenda J M.

I was diagnosed with CLL on November 1, 2011. I have been feeling good, but am scheduled to see my doctor in two weeks to discuss treatments. Prayer has carried me through this. My motto is: What God has brought me to-He will carry me through.

  • Tue Oct 15, 2013
Hi, I'm Barbara M B.
Stage IIIB NSCLC in the Pleura Cavity with effusion. Diagnosed last month. Started 150mg Tarceva (chemo pill) October 17, 2013. My co-pay to get this was $2,348.94!!!! Outrageous to say the least. Anyone out there who has this specific cancer. If so, I’d love to hear about date of diagnosis and treatment, etc. Thanks…
  • Fri Oct 18, 2013
Hi, I'm Uduak U.

I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in September 2013. My treatment is scheduled to start soon. I know I am healed by the special blood of Jesus because colon cancer is not my portion. I shall keep you posted.

  • Fri Nov 1, 2013
Hi, I'm Gary C S.

I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in Aug of 12 and went through chemo and radiation treaments untill Feb of 13 and the cancer is gone and I’m starting to eat soft foods in the last month so maybe I will have this g tube removed soon.I feel great now and hope the best for all the other people going through treatment as well. Gary

  • Sun Nov 10, 2013
Hi, I'm Suzzanna

Hello, All, I have been diagnosed with stage 4 Appendix Cancer and had issues with both extremes regarding regularity. I try to eat fruits and vegetables every day as well as take Fiberchoice (as recommended) and have had a friend send me some “Dieter’s Tea” from Los Angeles—it helps when the constipation comes on. To avoid it I try to use these options throughout my rounds of chemo to stay ‘looser’ than normal to avoid the extreme. If it gets too loose, I just stop whatever I’m taking for a day and see how my body adjusts. It’s not all that scientific but it works for me. Hope this gives you a few more options.

  • Tue Nov 12, 2013
Hi, I'm Keith W

Diagnosed stage IV low rectal cancer on Sept. 11. Rectal tumor has invaded the prostate and adjacent lymph nodes, and have 3 mets on the liver. Now on my 5th round of chemo and carrying a 46-hour pump. Side effects have been minor, some fatigue, loss of appetite, minor nausea. After only 3 infusions I experienced a significant reduction in rectal pain and was no longer constipated. CT scan last Tuesday shows significant shrinkage in all tumors. Quality of life improved 100% after the pain and constipation were gone and I’m completely off the Percoset. Went scuba diving for the first time in months, going again next weekend!

Shortly after my diagnosis my own research into nutritional approaches to treatment led me here:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/10/ketogenic-diet.aspx

and here:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/30/dagostino-cancer-research.aspx

and here:

http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/cancer-treatments.html

I purchased the ebook that is available at the last link, and I also purchased the Kindle version of Elaine Cantin’s book (http://www.amazon.com/The-Cantin-Ketogenic-Diet-Diabetes/dp/1477567593). A few days after my research into the ketogenic diet, I placed myself on the restricted version of the diet. I credit this diet with at least some of the good progress that I’ve made over the short period of treatment that I’ve undergone so far. If it hasn’t actually helped to shrink my tumors, then at least it has created a very hostile environment for the cancer to thrive and grow. I’m a believer!

  • Thu Dec 12, 2013

I was diagnosed with atypical Breast Hyper plasia and precancer cysts in early July, I went through 3 biopsys and the had a lumpsectomy ×2 in my left breath the end of September. The general surgeon I was seeing released me from care even when I had complications with one of my incisions not healing right. So my mother got me into a good cancer doctor who was shocked at my medical records from my previous doctor. He got me in right away and I started chemotherapy 2 days ago. I said I would never do chemotherapy treatments but here I am, I got a wonderful husband of almost 4 years, 2 wonderful children ages 14 and 23 plus a precious 1 year old grandson who I fight this cancer for everyday. I have so many mixed feelings about all of this especially when both sides of my family have mostly been taken from this world by some type of cancer. All my life I knew someday the cancer would catch up with me but I didn’t think it would be this soon. In June of 2019 I had a abnormal mammogram, then another not long after. But with the covid issues going on I wasn’t able to get in for proper care for almost a year. I’m scared and so worried of the burden my family has on them for my care right now. My husband and I are 17 years apart, but god love him he is right here by my side fighting this battle like it was his own. I could not ask for a better support system than the one I have with him, my parents, Inlaws and my children. .

  • Fri Nov 20, 2020