Oesophageal Cancer Diet
by Brad McHargue
Esophageal cancer begins as a tumor growing on the lining of the esophagus. If left untreated, it can then grow through the wall of the esophagus, eventually branching out and spreading through the body via the lymph nodes or the blood. There has been shown to be a link between heartburn and adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that forms where the esophagus meets the stomach. As such, a proper diet is a necessary preventative measure, as well as important method of treating esophageal cancer.
Due to a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and the irritation and pain associated with having cancer of the esophagus, following a proper diet that is not only easy and comfortable to eat but provides enough nutrients to help maintain a healthy weight and state of mind.
According to Sharlene Bidini, RD, CSO, an oncology nutrition specialist at the Oakwood Center for Cancer Care in Dearborn, Mich., radiation and chemotherapy can lead to an irritated throat. As a result, many patients may want to follow a series of tips and tricks to make eating easier.
Since fruits and vegetables are important in any diet, and they can cause discomfort while swallowing, drinking pure vegetable and fruit juices can be a good way to get your daily allowance of these foods.
Cutting food into tiny bites and making sure to chew thoroughly is recommended, as it prevents huge chunks of food from possibly getting lodged in the throat or irritating the lining of the esophagus.
Foods such as ice cream, jell-o, eggs, soup, and the like are also recommended, though they should always be supplemented with vitamins. If weight control has become an issue, these high-protein, high-fat foods can be a welcome addition to any esophageal cancer diet, as they don't irritate the esophagus.
A liquid diet might be necessary, especially for those who aren't receiving adequate nutrition from any of the foods mentioned above. Liquid meal replacements, such as Boost and Ensure, can provide enough nutrition as well as contain enough calories to help maintain weight. Plus they taste good, and nothing is better than having a milkshake for lunch.
As was mentioned above, pureeing and blending fruits and vegetables will help to make them easier to eat, as well as allowing the patient to still get the necessary nutrition found in them.
When living with esophageal cancer, one should always be sure to monitor and chart their eating habits, especially weight. A lower weight can mean a weaker immune system, so one of the first lines of defense and treatment is maintaining a healthy weight. A simple bathroom scale will do the trick and allow the patient to check daily how much they're gaining or losing.
Beyond this, a physician can check the patient's blood for the protein albumin, which could indicate protein depletion or a dangerous level of malnutrition.