Nutrition and Exercise - Penn State Cancer Institute

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Eat well throughout cancer treatment

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Nutrition Support

Nutrition Services for Cancer Patients

As part of its commitment to patient care, Penn State Cancer Institute is pleased to offer outpatient nutrition therapy services provided by a registered dietitian (RD) to assist you with managing nutrition needs before, during, and after cancer treatment.

What is a registered dietitian?

A registered dietitian (RD) is a professional who specializes in nutrition science, and is the most credible source of nutrition information. The RD provides reliable, objective nutrition information; separates facts from fads; and translates the latest scientific findings about nutrition into information that you can use at home.

What is the importance of nutrition during cancer treatment?

Nutrition is a critical component of cancer treatment. Eating the right foods before, during, and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have the important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water) the body needs.

Recommendations about food and eating for cancer patients can be very different from the suggestions for healthful eating. Some suggest eating foods with high calories and protein. These recommendations are designed specifically for cancer patients because they are designed to increase your strength and to help you withstand the effects of cancer and its treatment.

Who can benefit from nutrition services?

Everyone! When you are first diagnosed with cancer, your doctor talks to you about a treatment plan that may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy. All of these methods of treating cancer eliminate cells. In the process of eliminating cancer cells, some healthy cells are also damaged. This is the cause of side effects of cancer treatment such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Sore mouth or throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dental and gum problems
  • Changes in sense of taste or smell
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Need for alternate forms of nutrition (such as tube feedings)

A registered dietitian helps you better manage these side effects to keep your body as healthy as possible. You may also benefit from learning about a healthy diet before and after cancer treatment.

What types of nutrition services are available?

Penn State Cancer Institute has an outpatient RD dedicated to counseling patients for nutrition. The RD is available to discuss a variety of nutrition guidelines and recommendations based on the type of cancer you have and the treatment you are receiving. Services include:

  • Nutrition management of side effects from cancer treatments
  • Personalized, individual meal plans for optimal health
  • Nutrition management of tube feedings
  • Education on diet and general wellness before, during, and after cancer treatment
  • Education on nutrition supplements
  • Tolerable recipes during cancer treatment

How can I make an appointment to see the RD?

The RD must receive a consult from your oncologist prior to scheduling. To make an appointment, speak with your oncologist or nurse coordinator for referral. You can also call Penn State Cancer Institute at 717-531-6585.

The ONE Group - Oncology, Nutrition and Exercise

The Oncology, Nutrition and Exercise (ONE) Group at Penn State College of Medicine/Penn State Cancer Institute is leading a transformation in cancer care by establishing evidence-based physical activity and nutrition interventions as the standard of care from the point of diagnosis forward, including active treatment, rehabilitation and for the balance of life.

Find out more what this group has to offer.

We encourage you to contact your insurance provider to confirm reimbursement allowed through your policy.

Nutrition Support - Contact Us

Contact us

Penn State Cancer Institute
400 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033