Dr. Arunabha Sengupta_pic Dr. Arunabha Sengupta (Surgical Oncologist)

Coping with cancer treatment/ Eating and other tips :

People who generally eat well, sleep well, and try to stay well tolerate cancer treatment better. So one should take measures to ensure that. Depending on the nature of the treatment all patients will develop some side effects. These include: 1) loss of appetite 2) weight loss 3) nausea, vomiting, 4) dry mouth or mouth sores 5) changes in sense of taste 6)diarrhea/constipation 7) fatigue, depression, insomnia. All these side effects generally pass away when the treatment is complete and can be kept under control with adequate medicine.

Eating well :

Unlike other people cancer patients undergoing treatment should eat more of high calorie diets with protein and fat.

Should take :

Avoid :

Sore Mouth or Throat


If you have diarrhea following chemotherapy, that is serious condition and needs urgent attention. Otherwise simple diarrhea without indigestion should settle with simple medication and a little change of diet. Only make sure that you are not developing lactose intolerance as a result of taking lot of milk products or intolerance to high fiber food. Eat plenty of sherbets and fruit juices to supplement loss of salts from the body with liquid stool.


Constipation during therapy might be caused by pain killers, anti emetics, some antibiotics, calcium supplementation, prolonged bed rest and lack of exercise. Drink more fluid, do some asanas, and if required take laxatives. Constipation can be a cause for apathy to take food.

Weight loss

Weight loss is normal with cancer patients particularly during a rigorous therapy but some patients actually gain weight, particularly the breast and ovarian cancer patients. It can happen because of hormonal drugs and /or accumulation of more fluid inside the body. Check with your doctor if you are gaining weight.

Sleeping Well

Anxiety and pain or discomforts are two brothers who coexist and encourage each other. And both generally accompany the disease cancer and its therapy and cause sleep disturbances. If you are not sleeping well, take adequate drugs. Pain killers do not often act if they are not taken regularly and in adequate dosage. Consult with your doctor to prepare a proper pain medication chart and sedatives. It is always less harmful to take medicines and rest well than to try to avoid side effects of the medicines and remain awake and tensed. Also take short naps during other times of the day than relying on one long rest.  Sleeplessness can also be caused by too much inactivity. So take some exercises daily.

Do not worry too much about side effect like hair loss etc. They are temporary.

Staying well

During the course of the therapy and subsequently during the early phases of recovery it is important that the patient makes all possible and conscious efforts to stay well. It is important to avoid infection by exposure to dirty conditions and food and water that might cause infections. Light exercises are welcome but do not overstrain or engage in activities that might cause bodily injuries. Measure your diets and physical activities according to your physical condition and increase them gradually rather than suddenly returning to the normal life. Engage in activities that keep you amused and interested rather than engaging into serious tasks that exhaust you. If need be, consult doctors and take help to ward off any depression. Take help of physiotherapy rather than to develop preventable disabilities like arm edema, weakness of limbs, body ache etc.

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