Cancer Care. An In Great Health eNewsletter.
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Thank you for subscribing to Cancer Care, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with useful information about cancer care and prevention. To learn more about our services and community events, or to find a physician, visit

To your health,

The Avera Staff


Eating nutritiously gives you the strength and energy to thrive during cancer treatment. Eating a balanced diet even can improve your prognosis, according to the National Cancer Institute.

A good diet ensures your body can fight infection, heal and recover from surgery. However, some cancer treatments may affect your appetite and digestion. Your doctor and other health care providers will work with you to help you receive the nutrition you need even if you aren't hungry. Some of the following strategies may help.

Ask your doctor how treatment will affect you. Your hunger will be affected depending on what type of cancer you have and whether you have chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Chemotherapy, for example, can cause loss of appetite and nausea, while radiation to the head or neck and chemotherapy can affect how food tastes. Your doctor can give you more information.

Eat foods high in protein. These foods have a lot of energy. Try eating peanut butter, meat, eggs, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, poultry, nuts and fish.

Increase calories. Because it may be difficult to eat as much as you normally would, high-calorie foods are good choices during treatment. Try fried foods, high-calorie salad dressings and mayonnaise. Supplemental drinks between meals are beneficial, too.

Avoid gassy foods. Stay away from sodas, beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green peppers and any other foods that cause discomfort.

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You have probably heard about radiation therapy for cancer treatments and no doubt have some familiarity with its benefits and side effects. Here are the basics of this treatment that is used on several types of cancers.

Radiation therapy uses high-powered X-rays, particles or radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells. Cancer cells multiply faster than normal cells in the body. Because radiation is most harmful to rapidly growing cells, radiation therapy damages cancer cells more than normal cells.

Radiation therapy can be used to treat many types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, brain cancer and more. Radiation therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as chemotherapy or alternative therapies.

There are two types of radiation treatment: external-beam radiation and brachytherapy. External beam radiation directs high-powered X-rays or particles at the cancerous cells from outside of the body, while brachytherapy places seeds of radiation in or near the tumor. Avera offers both forms of radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy can damage healthy cells. That's why it can have side effects such as hair loss, skin pain and fatigue. Side effects vary widely depending on the part of the body receiving radiation, the dosage and frequency of the therapy.

The form of cancer treatment you receive depends on type of cancer, prognosis, age and more. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have questions about your treatments. 

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In Great Health online archive.

Cancer Care is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.