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March 18, 2021 | 4 minute read

Supporting Cancer Patients: A Dietitian’s Role

National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate”. We all eat in our own unique way and prefer different recipes, flavors and ingredients. But regardless of the foods we choose, proper nutrition is important for everyone.

As a specialist in oncology nutrition, I know that people with cancer are likely to personalize their plate due to symptoms and side effects caused by cancer and cancer treatment. People who are at a higher risk for developing cancer can also create a plate that is unique and personalized to help reduce their cancer risk.

From various types of treatment to the differing side effects patients experience, oncology is a unique field where dietitians work with patients through the many stages of cancer and survivorship.

For Dietitians: Understanding Cancer Prevention

Here are some of my favorite AICR resources to help grow your knowledge of cancer prevention.

  • Read through AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations on the Cancer Prevention page of AICR’s website.
  • While counseling clients, share these educational brochures with them so they have easy access to reliable, evidence-based information:
  • Guide people towards AICR’s free, interactive online program called the Healthy10 Challenge to help them eat better between appointments with you. Over the course of ten weeks, participants will be encouraged to live healthier by making improvements to their diet, nutrition and physical activity. Each weekly challenge focuses on either nutrition and diet or physical activity and movement.
  • Familiarize yourself with the AICR/WCRF Third Expert Report, the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative report on lifestyle and cancer prevention to date. Read the research about risk factors and specific cancers on AICR’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) page. There are currently 27 CUP reports available to help people understand the global research on diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer risk and survival.

For Dietitians: Understanding Cancer and Treatment

Learn the cancer basics and nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Oncology Nutrition Dietetics Practice Group. Here are resources to get you started:

To dig into oncology nutrition deeper, I highly suggest joining the Oncology Nutrition Dietetics Practice group. The benefits include a quarterly newsletter, discussion board, mentorship, oncology nutrition webinars and many more.

For Cancer Patients: Helpful Resources

AICR offers a variety of educational resources for those who have cancer. The top resources that I often share with my clients who are going through cancer treatment are:

  • CancerResource – a free publication with nutrition tips for a variety of cancer-related side effects.
  • AICR’s Foods that Fight CancerTM – a list of plant-based foods to include in your diet, along with the research linking each food to reducing cancer risk.
  • AICR’s healthy recipes library – a list of recipes specially crafted to support cancer patients before, during and after cancer treatment.

For Cancer Patients: Understanding Cancer Survivorship

People who have finished a journey through cancer may be at risk of cancer recurrence and/or other illness like heart disease. Cancer survivors often deal with lingering side effects and metabolic impacts, so it’s important to understand how nutrition and physical activity can help. Here are other survivorship resources, in addition to those listed above:

  • iThrive is a free online program designed by survivors for survivors. This tool offers an integrative approach to health and helps cancer survivors find a new normal after cancer.
  • AICR Cancer Survivor webpage provides more information that is specific to cancer survivors.

One comment on “Supporting Cancer Patients: A Dietitian’s Role

  1. Inmaculada Aguilera Buenosvinos on


    We have currently conducting a Clinical Trial for prevention of breast cancer recurrences, here in Spain throught an evidence-based dietary pattern, concretely, Mediterranean Diet and a Low fat diet.

    We hope to have results in 2 or 3 years more or less.


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