Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nutrition Services at Cancer Centers

Here is the link to two very well written articles explaining in detail (1) the knowledge base and benefits that a Registered Dietitian, especially one with the additional CSO certification in nutritional oncology, brings to the quality of cancer care a person needs and deserves and (2) the steps, steps, steps that one community-based cancer center in Denver undertook to incorporate nutritional services from an RD into  comprehensive care provided at their cancer center for every patient seen, from the point of diagnosis forward through treatment and into survivorship, and free of charge.

I have previously posted on this topic here and here. Usually I feel like I am "ranting" but here I feel like I am cheering. If your cancer center does not yet have a Registered Dietitian (or two or three!) as a member of the professional team of health care providers, feel free to copy these articles and take them into your oncologist and cancer center administrator and ask "why not?" and keep asking and keep asking.

The first article called out the belief that malnutrition is an expected outcome of cancer treatments as "outdated". The author could not have written a more accurate statement. I might not have been so polite - oh yes I would in that forum - but the reality is that maintaining adequate nutritional status during cancer treatments is critical to optimizing the best outcome from those treatments. AND it has been well-demonstrated that late intervention (the "crash and burn" scenario that the author describes) that I have mentioned in past posts is simply "too little, too late" and sad to say, usually wasted time, expertise, expense, and hope.

Nutritional screening should be incorporated into regular screening for all patients at every new visit to the outpatient cancer center, just as other "vital signs" are always assessed pro-actively and individually. These two articles give numerous examples of why and how this can be done.

Again, I urge you to print them out to give to your oncologist. In addition, do some "sleuthing" around your cancer center and find out who is (or will be) your cancer center's "nutrition champion" and give the articles to that person, too. Just as good nutrition does not happen by accident for any one person even without a cancer diagnosis, having a cancer center incorporate appropriate and optimal nutrition services for each and every patient will not happen by accident or default either (and certainly not at an optimal level), especially with the current standard being that an RD only has to be "available" to work with patients and their families.

Step, step, step! These two articles are BIG steps. Thanks to Rhone Levin, MEd, RD, CSO, LD and Shari Oakland, RD for sharing your expertise, hard work, and passion for and commitment to nutritional oncology.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


The Breast Cancer Support Team said...

Hi Diana,

I am writing you on the behalf of the Breast Cancer Support team to thank you for your really good articles and menus ideas!

As a result, we wrote an article about how an healthy lifestyle can help you to prevent breast cancer and decided to insert one of your menu idea with a link to your website :)

Here is the link of the article, if you want to have a look:

Keep doing the good work!

With good health,
The Breast Cancer Support Team

Diana Dyer said...

Hi to The Breast Cancer Support Team all the way down under in Australia!

Thanks for stopping by my website ( and blog! Thanks also for including one of the menus from my website in your article about healthy lifestyles.

If I were to re-do that menu to more accurately reflect how I eat today (versus nearly 15 years ago now!), I would replace the store-bought vegetarian chicken patty with any one of the home-made patty recipes from my website or this blog. One of my favorites is the Sweet Potato-Salmon Patty recipe.

Admittedly, we all need those fast meals now and then, and this is how I do "fast food" today. I make my own ahead of time and have it ready to take out of the freezer on those frenzied days or days when I really am too tired to be creative cooking up an easy meal.

I've been lucky enough to vacation in Melbourne and Tasmania. There is still a lot of Australia to see!