During and after your treatment for liver cancer, it’s important to maintain good nutrition so you’re as strong and healthy as you can be. At times, this may be challenging because both the disease and its treatments might affect your desire and ability to eat and drink.
Your team from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and the Liver Tumor Clinic will help you make sure you’re well nourished and hydrated. We will let you know what to expect, monitor how you’re doing, give you individualized recommendations, and suggest ways to make changes in your diet that work for you.
With liver cancer, it’s important not simply to have a generally healthy diet but to make some specific food and drink choices that can help you avoid problems related directly to how your liver works. A nutritionist can help.
Common Nutritional Concerns
One job of the liver is to process substances in the blood that are normal by-products of bodily functions, like the breakdown of proteins. These substances enter the liver and get purified; they are either turned into helpful substances or they are excreted from the body.
The liver also produces vital substances that the body needs, like factors that help your blood to clot and bile to help you digest food. The liver has a storage role, too; it gathers and stores glycogen, which provides energy, and it stores certain fat-soluble vitamins.
All these can become nutritional concerns for people who have liver cancer.
For example, you may not be able to digest food as well as you used to, so it’s important to eat the right kind of proteins that your body doesn’t have to work as hard to use. Your liver may not be able to store glycogen as well, so you may have less energy and need to eat often throughout the day.
At the same time, your cancer and treatment may reduce your appetite, so you may not want to eat very much. There are many ways a nutritionist can work with you to help you get the best possible nutrition, whatever you’re facing.
Get the Nutrition Help You Need
The best time to get nutritional advice is before you develop any nutritional problems. With the right guidance, you may be able to prevent problems before they start. But no matter where you are in your treatment, your team is ready to help.
Nutritionists are available to work with you to do the following:
- Prepare your body for treatment by eating well before treatment starts.
- Set specific goals for adequate nutrition and fluid intake, check in regularly to see whether you’re getting enough, and change your plan or goals as needed.
- Figure out which foods are easiest to tolerate with your symptoms.
- Keep a balance of the right types and amounts of protein.
- Choose nutrient-dense foods to get as much nutrition as possible with every meal.
Let your doctor or your team’s scheduler know if you’d like to meet with a nutritionist. Learn more about medical nutrition therapy.