Incorporating Nutritional Support as Complementary Therapy for Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment
Nutritional support offered before and during chemotherapy treatment is proven to improve the outcomes of treatment (Bernhardson, 2016). This project seeks to examine current forms of nutritional support offered to patients, as well as the models of care and support teams in cancer treatment centers. The basis for this project incorporated personal experiences at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona as well as research into the work of clinical oncology dietitians. An intense interest in food videos and blogs also informed this project, and was incorporated in the hope of providing chemotherapy patients a platform to discover recipes specific to their unique situation. The combination of this research was utilized to create several videos which demonstrated specific recipes beneficial for patients as well as creating a platform for this particular population. While nutritional support can take multiple forms, the focus of nutritional support surrounds symptom management. The common side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, mucositis (mouth sores), and extreme weight loss were taken into account. Recipes were formulated to directly address these conditions and each recipe was broken down into the benefits of both macronutrients and micronutrients. In addition to formulating specific recipes and videos, barriers to proper nutritional support were examined and explained. These barriers include understaffing of clinical dietitians at cancer treatment centers, a patient's lack of transportation to and from treatments, as well as an overwhelming viewpoint that nutritional support is only required for extreme cases of malnutrition. Combatting these barriers and offering more forms of nutritional support will help to increase a patient's positive response to treatment, manage their symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life.