Cancer, Detection & Treatment

Quick GuideUnderstanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More

Understanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More

How important is nutrition for cancer patients?

Some patients lose their appetite and find it hard to eat well. In addition, the common side effects of treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores, can make it difficult to eat. For some patients, foods taste different. Also, people may not feel like eating when they are uncomfortable or tired.

Patients who eat well during cancer treatment often feel better and have more energy. In addition, they may be better able to handle the side effects of treatment. Eating well means getting enough calories and protein to help prevent weight loss and regain strength.

Doctors, nurses, and dietitians can offer advice for healthy eating during cancer treatment. Patients and their families also may want to read the National Cancer Institute booklet Eating Hints: Recipes and Tips For Better Nutrition During Cancer Treatment, which contains many useful suggestions.

What are clinical trials?

When laboratory research shows that a new treatment method has promise, cancer patients can receive the treatment in carefully controlled trials. These trials are designed to find out whether the new approach is both safe and effective and to answer scientific questions. Often, clinical trials compare a new treatment with a standard approach so that doctors can learn which is more effective.

Researchers also look for ways to reduce the side effects of treatment and improve the quality of patients' lives. Patients who take part in clinical trials make an important contribution to medical science. These patients take certain risks, but they also may have the first chance to benefit from improved treatment methods.

Clinical trials offer important options for many patients. Cancer patients who are interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. They may want to read What Are Clinical Trials All About?, a booklet from the National Cancer Institute that explains treatment studies and outlines some of their possible benefits and risks.

One way to learn about clinical trials is through PDQ, a computerized resource developed by the National Cancer Institute. PDQ contains information about cancer treatment and about clinical trials in progress all over the country. The Cancer Information Service can provide PDQ information to doctors, patients, and the public.

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