Chewing and Swallowing Difficulties

Nutrition and Cancer: Nutritional Management of Chewing and Swallowing Difficulties

Nutritional management of treatment side effects

There is more to nutrition during cancer and cancer therapy than getting enough calories and protein. The foods you choose also help you cope with side effects, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chewing and swallowing difficulties, and taste changes.

As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his or her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team  possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.

Nutritional management of chewing and swallowing difficulties

Cancer treatments target fast growing cancer cells in your body. Healthy cells that are fast growing can also be damaged. Examples of fast growing cells include cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and hair. These may be affected by cancer treatment and can cause problems, such as your hair falling out, nausea and vomiting, or a metallic taste in your mouth. Eating well from the beginning of cancer therapy has been found to help prevent mouth problems.

Stomatitis, or mucositis, is the presence of sores in the mouth caused by some anticancer drugs. In addition to being painful, mouth sores can become infected by the many germs that normally live in the mouth. They can make it difficult to swallow and chew as well. If you develop sores in your mouth, tell your doctor or nurse. You may need medication if the sores become painful or prevent you from eating.

The following suggestions may help if you have mouth problems:

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