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Proper nutrition during and after mesothelioma treatment is important. A healthy diet may help support patients’ treatment and recovery. It may also help manage side effects and maintain quality of life. A patient’s care team can recommend a personalized mesothelioma treatment diet.

01. How Nutrition Helps

How Diet, Food & Nutrition May Help During Mesothelioma Treatment and Recovery

A mesothelioma treatment diet may help patients manage side effects from active treatment. For instance, dietitians may recommend diets with high-protein food sources, such as chicken, fish and cooked eggs. High-protein diets can help patients maintain their energy during treatment. A proper diet during cancer treatment may also include a good selection of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber.

It’s important to note that no diet can prevent mesothelioma. But a care team may recommend a personalized mesothelioma diet that may help patients after diagnosis. A custom diet for cancer treatment can help give patients essential nutrients. Maintaining good nutrition during cancer treatment and recovery may help patients support their immune systems and manage treatment side effects.

Patients should ask their care team or dietitian what foods to eat and avoid. Beyond general food guidelines, dietitians can also advise patients about any unique considerations for their individual cases.

Mesothelioma Treatment Side Effects That Food May Help Manage

  • Constipation
  • Dental or gum problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling full too early
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sore mouth or throat
  • Taste changes
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss

Nutrition Before Starting Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment

After a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis, patients often have many questions. One question patients and their care teams can discuss is how to follow a mesothelioma treatment diet. Care teams may make diet recommendations to help get patients ready for treatment.

Before diagnosis, some people experience weight loss as a mesothelioma symptom. Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight throughout treatment is beneficial. So, doctors may advise patients to follow a diet that encourages favorable weight gain.

Often, care teams may recommend patients prepare with a cancer treatment diet. This diet may emphasize high-protein, high-calorie foods. Nuts, eggs, turkey and other similar foods may help patients maintain a healthy weight.

It’s important that patients follow their cancer treatment diet plan. Doing so before treatment can support patients in reaching their recommended weight. It also helps patients get more essential nutrients from food. These factors may help patients get the most out of their treatment.

02. Nutrition and Chemotherapy

What to Eat During Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma Cancer

Chemotherapy for mesothelioma can cause side effects, which can vary for each patient. If patients experience side effects, they can discuss these with their oncology teams. Doctors and cancer dietitians can recommend the best foods to eat during chemotherapy to manage these side effects.

In general, chemotherapy can cause various side effects that impact a patient’s appetite and weight. Proper nutrition during chemotherapy may help manage some common side effects of this treatment.

Common Chemotherapy Side Effects That Food May Help Manage

  • Changes in how food tastes
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Nausea
  • Swelling or sores in the mouth
  • Vomiting

Care teams can give patients anti-nausea medicine to help after treatment. Dietitians may also recommend potential foods to help patients during chemotherapy. Some food examples are cream of wheat, oatmeal, cereals, chicken, tofu or gelatin. These foods are bland, which may help with nausea and other side effects.

High-protein foods, whole grains, fruits and soups may help with constipation and diarrhea. Drinking plenty of fluids can help the body clear chemotherapy byproducts. Patients may want to try herbal teas, popsicles, gelatin, clear broths and sports drinks to avoid dehydration.

Some herbal teas, like Essiac tea, claim to cure cancer. No evidence supports these claims. Some studies show these teas may even cause harm to cancer patients. All herbal medicine, in tea and other forms, should be approved by patients’ care teams before use.

Some recommendations suggest patients eat small meals and a bland diet during chemotherapy. For instance, patients might plan to have five or six small meals a day. Frequent smaller meals may feel better than eating larger meals less frequently. Dietitians may give similar recommendations for a chemotherapy recovery diet.

Foods to avoid during chemotherapy may include processed or red meats, saturated fats and alcohol. These foods may decrease the body’s ability to fight cancer.

03. Nutrition and Radiation

What to Eat During Radiation for Mesothelioma Cancer

Mesothelioma radiation therapy often has localized side effects. Patients receiving radiation targeted at the head or neck may experience some reactions in that area. For example, reported reactions after radiation include dry mouth, inflammation in the mouth and loss of taste.

Patients should talk to their care team about any side effects they experience. They may be able to make dietary changes to help manage such side effects. Some diet changes may help with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mouth problems like sores and swelling.

For example, more frequent and smaller meals may help manage nausea and other appetite symptoms. High-fiber foods, like whole grains, may help address constipation. Low-fiber foods may help manage diarrhea.

Dietitians may also recommend high-protein and high-calorie foods as part of patients’ cancer treatment diet during radiation. These foods help ensure mesothelioma patients get enough nutrition to maintain their weight.

Foods That Help Maintain Weight and Provide Nutrition During Radiation

  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurts
  • Lean red meats
  • Lentils and peas
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood
  • Tofu and other soy products

These foods are high in protein. In addition to helping patients maintain weight, high-protein foods may help repair body tissue and maintain a healthy immune system.

It’s important that patients follow their cancer treatment diet, even if they feel unwell. Patients may find this difficult for many reasons. If they are struggling to incorporate recommended foods, their healthcare team can help.

04. Nutrition and Surgery

Nutrition and Surgery for Mesothelioma Cancer

Some p​atients’ cancer treatment plans include mesothelioma surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, it may cause various side effects. Loss of appetite and other eating challenges are common side effects. Cancer care teams can develop a dietary plan to support patients before and after surgery.

Experts emphasize the importance of nutrition for patients undergoing surgery. Some patients’ care teams may recommend eating a high-protein, high-calorie diet. This diet may encourage nourishment and a healthy weight for surgery.

Care teams may develop a personalized dietary plan for patients’ nutritional needs before surgery and during recovery. A dietitian can recommend foods their patient should eat, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and other foods to avoid, like soda.

Foods to Avoid After Having Surgery for Mesothelioma

A cancer care team will have specific instructions on foods a patient should avoid after surgery. Generally, these foods can cause bloating or gas and may be difficult to digest. Specific foods dietitians may recommend surgical patients avoid include:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Cucumbers
  • Green peppers
  • Peas
  • Radishes

Dietitians may recommend various foods after surgery to boost protein intake. Additional protein helps the body heal and repair itself after surgery. Foods that may be good for patients post-surgery include cheese, milk, peanut butter and ice cream.

Patients should be sure to talk to their care teams about tips for proper nutrition during this time. Together, they can navigate any dietary challenges patients are facing.

05. Nutrition and Immunotherapy

What to Eat During Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma Cancer

Immunotherapy is a cutting-edge, promising treatment that is often used for mesothelioma. Like other treatments, good nutrition before and during treatment may be beneficial. Cancer care teams can explain if there are any foods to avoid during immunotherapy. Nutrition also supports recovery after immunotherapy.

Some studies have linked helpful gut bacteria to the effectiveness of immunotherapy. Researchers believe finding the right balance of these bacteria can aid immunotherapy effectiveness. Dietary changes and probiotic supplements may help balance them. Patients should get their oncologists’ clearance before taking any supplements.

Immunotherapy may cause more tolerable side effects than traditional treatment methods. But some patients still experience side effects that make eating more difficult. Nutritionists on cancer care teams can develop custom immunotherapy diet plans.

An immunotherapy diet may include high-protein and high-calorie foods to help manage general treatment side effects. But specific foods may also help patients handle other common immunotherapy side effects.

Common Diet-Related Side Effects of Immunotherapy

  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fluish symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sore mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Dietary recommendations depend on which side effects patients are experiencing. For example, a low-fiber or soft food diet may be best for some. An immunotherapy diet plan may also focus on poultry, fish, lean red meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Patients can discuss nutritional needs with their teams before, during and after treatment. If any side effects develop, these diet recommendations may change. Cancer care teams can help patients find the right diet for them.

06. Other Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle Choices to Aid Recovery

During and after treatment for mesothelioma, patients’ care teams may recommend lifestyle choices to further aid recovery. Beyond nutrition, these choices may include adequate hydration, appropriate physical activity and avoiding smoking. After treatment, incorporating or continuing these behaviors may help patients stay healthy.

Healthcare providers may recommend mesothelioma patients do some physical activity. Following this advice may help patients maintain a healthy weight, keep muscle mass and aid the body’s ability to fight cancer. Some studies show a link between high levels of physical activity and decreased cancer risk. The recommended level of physical activity will vary by patient.

After treatment, patients should speak with their doctor about appropriate exercises. Their doctor can explain any limitations after treatment. Together, they can determine which activities are best to continue or add.

Another lifestyle recommendation is for mesothelioma patients to avoid smoking. Smoking is a known risk factor for cancer. Not smoking may help lower the risk of growth or recurrence. It may be helpful for recovering patients to avoid smoking. If patients smoke, their doctors can provide guidance for quitting.

These lifestyle recommendations may also help patients manage side effects from mesothelioma treatment. Certain choices may directly impact patient outcomes, like treatment success and side effects.

Hydration and Cancer

When fighting a cancer like mesothelioma, hydration is especially valuable. Getting enough fluids may help patients flush out waste from their bodies. Adequate hydration may also help manage other treatment side effects.

Common Dehydration Symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Dark urine color and urinating less often
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sleepy or tired
  • Having dry lips, gums, mouth or nostrils
  • Headaches
  • Increased temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Thirst

Dehydration is a common side effect of cancer treatment that may lead to serious complications. It may also cause or worsen side effects from various treatments, including constipation, fatigue, nausea and weakness. Increasing hydration may help ease some of these side effects.

Patients can get fluids from:

  • Drinks: Examples include water, seltzer, fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks, tea, milk and nutritional supplement drinks.
  • Select sweets: Examples include gelatin, ice pops, ice cream, frozen yogurt, Italian ice, sorbets and milkshakes.
  • Soups: Examples include bouillon, broth and light soups.

Doctors may also recommend patients avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine. These beverages can cause dehydration. For instance, caffeinated energy drinks, sodas, coffee and teas may cause dehydration.

Patients experiencing dehydration symptoms should immediately alert their care team. There may be various solutions, like increasing fluid intake a little at a time. Doctors may also recommend patients track fluids. In some cases, an intravenous (IV) drip may help increase hydration quickly.

07. Nutrition After Treatment

Mesothelioma Diet & Nutrition After Treatment

After active treatment, mesothelioma patients may still need to follow cancer diet plans. Maintaining proper nutrition and a balanced diet after treatment can fuel recovery. Their care teams can make recommendations based on individual nutritional needs.

Research suggests various factors can have a negative impact on patients’ health. Nutrition may help manage some of these factors, like unhealthy body weight. Lifestyle choices like physical activity may also be beneficial. A dietitian will work with patients recovering from treatments to determine the best foods to eat and appropriate activity levels.

While the diet may change after treatment, many principles are the same. For example, doctors may recommend mesothelioma survivors eat more fruits and vegetables. Other foods, like processed red meats, may still be limited.

After treatment, patients can discuss nutrition during their follow-up care visits. These visits also allow the doctor to monitor for signs of recurrence. Their care team may also suggest dietary and lifestyle choices to manage new or ongoing side effects.

Mesothelioma Survivors Diet

Mesothelioma survivors diet plans are generally customized to each person. Evidence does not show one specific type of food can reduce the risk of cancer or recurrence. But survivors can make beneficial lifestyle and dietary choices. These choices may help ease side effects and improve their quality of life.

Dietitians can develop custom diet plans for mesothelioma survivors and address their unique needs. Many foods patients eat during treatment may still be part of their post-cancer treatment diet. This includes fruits, vegetables and high-protein foods. These foods provide important nutrients and may help patients gain or maintain strength.

Some tips dietitians may recommend for mesothelioma survivors include:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients and antioxidants that are vital to health. Experts recommend eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Eating unsaturated fats: Patients may benefit from eating foods high in unsaturated fats. Examples include nuts, poultry and fish. Experts suggest making unsaturated fats no more than 30% of total daily calories.
  • Limiting alcohol: For overall health, survivors may choose to avoid all alcohol. Otherwise, experts recommend limiting alcohol to no more than one serving per day.
  • Limiting red meat: Researchers have found red meat may increase cancer risk. Experts recommend survivors limit red meat to three or four servings (or less) per week.

A dietitian or nutritionist can develop a plan that addresses the survivor’s unique needs. They may also make recommendations to help ease any long-term side effects of treatment. Patients may also consult nutrition resources for lifestyle and diet recommendations after treatment.

From diagnosis to survivorship, mesothelioma patients may benefit from proper nutrition. They can work with their care teams to find the right diet for them. This diet may help manage side effects and give patients the nutrients they need for treatment. After treatment, many lifestyle and diet choices can help support their quality of life.

08. Common Questions

Common Questions About Diet & Nutrition During & After Cancer Treatments

What vitamins should you take with immunotherapy?

No evidence suggests any vitamin or supplement can slow or cure cancer. Some early research suggests Vitamin E may offer other benefits for immunotherapy patients. But supplements may cause problems or disrupt cancer therapy. Patients should get medical approval to take vitamins and supplements.

What should you eat after cancer treatment?

After cancer treatment, experts recommend patients continue eating a nutritious diet. A post-cancer treatment diet plan often includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Survivors may be able to tolerate more diverse foods. But eating a healthy diet can support their continuing recovery.

How can I get enough calories and nutrients during mesothelioma treatment?

Mesothelioma patients can get adequate nutrition by following a cancer treatment diet. Medical teams can customize diets for individual patients. They often emphasize high-calorie and high-protein foods like nuts, eggs, poultry and tofu. Cancer care teams can ensure patients’ nutrition is on track.

Can dietary choices minimize inflammation from mesothelioma radiation therapy?

Dietary choices may not minimize inflammation from radiation. But food choices can ease some radiation side effects. Examples include dry mouth, taste changes and difficulty swallowing. To manage these, care teams may recommend choices like eating bland or soft foods and eating cold or room-temperature meals.