Last Modified: March 1, 2009
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My friend has stage II ovarian cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy - 2nd treatment following debulking surgery.
Prior to her diagnosis, she had stomach reduction surgery.
She is having an exceptionally hard time post chemo treatments with dehydration and low potassium level.
I am an OC Survivor myself, and know the "excitement of chemo" but without reduced stomach capacity. What should she be eating/drinking to maximize essential nutrients during this difficult time?
Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
This is tough, but with the right support, she will be ok. The post- gastrectomy (stomach removal for cancer) diet would be appropriate for your friend, since her bariatric surgery is so similar to the roux-en-Y and Whipple surgeries used for cancers of the stomach and pancreas.
Patients who have had these surgeries also have to monitor their tolerance for simple carbohydrates initially, so the diet sheet mentions using low sugar supplements. She should certainly be followed by a dietitian at her cancer center. She needs to know what her nutrition needs are for maintaining her weight and how to maximize her intake. This can be very difficult for somebody who has a weight loss mind set. I tell them that they have to do "reverse dieting", meaning they have to do the opposite of what they are used to doing. Their nutritional markers need to be carefully followed. It may be difficult for her to meet her fluid needs since she is limited on how much she can drink, and also we do not want her drinking so much she that she fills up on fluid and can not eat so she may need regular IV fluids. Also, if she can't maintain her weight nutrition support may need to be considered. I have patients who have undergone bariatric surgery and then been treated for cancer and most have done well but they do need a lot of nutritional support.