For patients receiving radiation therapy to the head, neck and/or chest area.
Radiation therapy to the head, neck, chest and bones in the upper back area can cause difficulty swallowing (odynophagia/dysphagia), dry mouth (xerostomia), taste changes and/or mouth/esophageal sores (mucositis and esophagitis). You can experience some of these nutrition-related side effects or none at all. Early nutrition care can help to decrease the severity of these side effects of treatment, help you maintain your body weight and keep you more comfortable.
It is important to note that the side effects of treatment often do not disappear immediately after the radiation finishes, but can take weeks or a few months to resolve. A gradual return to a healthy diet is advised.
The side effects from radiation therapy listed above often do not happen at the start of treatment but can appear a few weeks into your treatment plan. Please be aware of any changes in ease and comfort when chewing or swallowing, and report them to your healthcare team. The following are some nutrition suggestions to start at the beginning of treatment in an effort to minimize the possible effects of radiation.
Commercially prepared liquids such as those made by Ensure, Boost and Carnation Instant Breakfast can be very effective and easy ways to get extra nutrition.
*Please do not disregard previously defined dietary restrictions for heart disease, diabetes or any other condition unless discussed with dietitian, nurse and doctor.