How Treatment affects Eating

The common ways to treat cancer include:
  • Surgery: cancer is removed during an operation
  • Chemotherapy: medications are used to cure or control cancer
  • Radiotherapy: x–rays and gamma rays are used to cure or control cancer.
Cancer treatment often damages normal healthy cells at the same time as killing cancer cells. This may produce side effects that can affect eating, such as:
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • feeling tired (fatigue)
  • having a sore mouth
  • having a sore throat and trouble swallowing
  • having a dry mouth
  • changes in taste and smell
  • constipation or diarrhoea
Side effects vary from person to person. The part of the body treated, the length of treatment and the dose of treatment all determine whether side effects will occur. Most side effects are temporary and go away after treatment ends. There are ways to control and manage the side effects.
Worrying about your illness, feeling anxious or afraid can also affect your eating. Talk to someone you trust, the social worker at the hospital or your doctor, if you're experiencing these feelings.