Nutrition and cancer
Research shows that food and nutrition support before, during and after cancer treatment can help improve quality of life, manage side effects, heal wounds, improve your immune system and reduce the risk of cancer coming back. However, the side effects of cancer and its treatment may make it hard to eat enough, or you may have trouble eating some foods.
These services and health professionals can help you to manage your food and nutrition during and after cancer treatment.
Health professionals you might see
When you visit a service there are a range of health professionals you may see. There could also be other health professionals you see at this service that are not included below.
Helps with nutrition concerns and recommends changes to diet during treatment and recovery.
A health professional who provides information and support about nutrition. May be a qualified nutrition scientist or naturopathic nutritionist.
Helps with communication and swallowing difficulties during treatment and recovery.
Ask your treatment team
If you need help with food and nutrition, it is worth asking your treatment team for a referral to an appropriate health professional. In most cases there will be dietitians or nutritionists and speech pathologists working at your treatment centre. If there aren’t any working at your treatment centre, your treatment team will be able to refer you to someone who works in the community.
Questions to ask about this service
When looking at a service it is important to ask questions about how the service works before you decide to engage with them. Below is a list of questions you might like to ask when enquiring about a service.
Am I eligible?
Some services have specific criteria that a person must meet before they are able to use a service, for example location, means testing or a specific cancer type. It is important to know if you are eligible to access a service right from the start.
Do I need a referral?
Some services require a referral from your specialist, GP or a social worker. This helps to make sure that the right patients are being connected with the right services. It’s a good idea to ask if a referral is needed and if so, exactly what type of referral the service requires.
How much will this cost me?
Some services are free, and some come at a cost. At a time when people should be focused on their treatment and recovery, the cost of cancer can be a source of stress and worry for many. It’s a good idea to ask about the fees attached to a service and if there are any subsidies or benefits you might be eligible for before committing to the service. It’s important to know that you are within your rights to ask about the cost of a service or treatment before agreeing to take part. For more information you can visit cancer and your finances.
Is there a wait time?
Sometimes demand for a service is high which can cause wait times. You might find it helpful to ask if there are any wait times for the services you are looking at, especially if you require support as soon as possible.
What services do you offer?
Some organisations provide a range of services for people affected by cancer, their family, friends and carers. It is a good idea to ask about exactly what services are available to you.
Will I be treated as an inpatient or an outpatient?
Depending on the type of treatment or care you are receiving you may be seen as an inpatient or an outpatient. You are considered an inpatient if you have been admitted to the hospital for treatment. Alternatively, you are considered an outpatient when you receive treatment at a hospital, but without being admitted. It’s important to know if you are going to be treated as an inpatient or an outpatient as this can impact the cost of treatment, and will help you to understand the amount of time you might need to spend at the hospital.
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