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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Making Food Choices During Breast Cancer Treatment

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

By Rafia Nasir

Food plays a vital role in our health. For those diagnosed with breast cancer, choosing the right diet can significantly support overall well-being and aid in the recovery process. It’s crucial to understand that good dietary choices may help improve symptoms and impact your overall quality of life.

Breast cancer is unique to each individual, and there are various subtypes of the disease. Treatment plans can also differ from case to case. For these reasons, there is no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. Rather, you can work with your healthcare team to determine the right food choices for your situation.

As an oncology pharmacist, I’m sharing steps to consider when making food choices during your experience with breast cancer. While this information will help you understand a general approach for your nutrition, it’s strongly recommended that you consult a registered dietitian with oncology expertise for personalized advice.

Here are some suggestions for how to get started:

1. Understand Your Unique Diagnosis:

Determine your breast cancer subtype. Your subtype is typically included on pathology reports and other documents from your doctor. Confirm this by asking your doctor directly if you’re unsure. Breast cancer subtypes are different from one another and each subtype has unique dietary recommendations. Research the dietary guidelines relevant to your breast cancer subtype, and ask your dietician for their recommendations. 2. Consider Your Comorbidities:

If you have pre-existing health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or any others, it can influence the food choices you make during your breast cancer experience. This is because these conditions can interact with your dietary needs and considerations. Make sure your oncologist is informed when you make significant dietary changes. Provide your dietitian with information about any other conditions when creating your customized meal plan.

3. Understand Your Treatment Plan:

Confirm your treatment plan with your oncology team: surgery, radiation, or medication-based approaches like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormonal treatment. Each treatment has dietary considerations and guidelines, indicating what’s suitable and what to avoid during treatment. It’s important to note that certain foods can have interactions with cancer medications, potentially affecting the medication’s effectiveness or exacerbating side effects. For example, you may have heard about grapefruit interacting with some medications. Or perhaps you’re wondering if you can safely enjoy small amounts of alcohol while you’re in treatment. Make sure to ask your oncology team, pharmacist, and dietician to confirm your understanding of any possible interactions. 4. Adapt for Your Side Effects:

Your cancer treatment may cause a range of side effects, which can differ from patient to patient. As a result, your diet might require modifications to help alleviate these side effects and provide relief. Your doctor may advise managing your side effects at home through dietary changes or over-the-counter medications, or they may advise you to seek medical attention from your care team.

Remember that cancer is a complex experience, and you’ll need to seek assistance from various oncology specialists as you navigate treatment. Your healthcare team can provide you with the guidance needed to navigate through the complexities of cancer treatment, including specific diet and food recommendations. Coupled with advice from a registered dietician, this support can help you make good nutrition choices for your unique situation.

Learn more:

On the Breast Cancer Conversations Podcast:

What’s the Difference Between Diet and Nutrition?

From the same author:

Author bio:

Rafia Nasir holds a Pharm-D degree and has extensive clinical and oncology experience. She worked for four years as a clinical pharmacist in medical oncology at an ISO-certified military hospital in Pakistan. Her experience as a clinical pharmacist helps her understand cancer treatment and the importance of individualized care.

She currently works as a medical writer covering cancer treatment and research. By leveraging her clinical experience, she is able to translate complex medical information into patient-friendly language to help patients better understand their disease and treatment options. Through her work, she aims to bridge the gap between medical expertise and patient understanding.

With a strong focus on patient education, she is committed to helping patients and their caregivers tackle cancer treatment complexities with confidence and hope. Resources & Support:


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