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Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by Jhennessy on Feb 16, 2020 6:29 pm

Hello everyone, I am new to the forum but it already looks to be a great source of information and support.

My father was recently diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat and will be undergoing surgery and treatment soon.  I can only imagine that the throat and neck surgery will make eating difficult for him for the next little while and I would like to make it as easy as possible.  So I was wondering if there were any guides or helpful information on the ideal diet during this time. (vitamin, nutrients, fats, proteins, etc.) Also what kind of meals would be best smoothies or soups for example?

Thank you,

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by Brighty on Feb 16, 2020 7:06 pm

Welcome Jhennessy‍ ! Glad you posted  here to get information  and support for your dad and for yourself.     I'm sorry to hear of your dad's diagnoses.     The best source of information  would probably  be the oncology  dietician.    every oncology  department has a dietician.      They can give suggesions  on the best diet for your dad and they frequently  have free samples to give away.      My guy had esophageal cancer.    WhIle not the same thing,  this type of cancer made eating difficult.     When  he was able to eat, he stuck to soft foods...  Ensure, cream of mushroom soups, yogart,  apple sause,  baby food,  shakes,  and eating smaller meals more often.     The most important  thing for him at that time was calories  and to keep  his strength  up for treatment  and surgery.    When he could no longer eat, a feeding tube was inserted in order  for him to get calories  and nourishment .      As for vitamens  it would be best to check with his oncologist because  certain  vitamins can interfere with treatment.     I'm going to tag @Jamest into the conversation because  he has experienced  throat cancer and has knowledge  on what your dad can expect.   @Jamest.  Sorry  My tag is not working .     If you have any more questions  don't hesitate to post here.     
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by jorola on Feb 16, 2020 7:47 pm

Hi Jhennessy‍ 
The best thing for you to do is speak to your dad's doctor's. Each doctor has their own opinion on this. My husband's oncologist did not want my husband eating extra anti-oxidants, other supplements or nutrients while he was on chemo as he felt they worked against what the chemo was trying to do. Other doctors feel it is ok. Play it safe and check with the doctor first.
I will tag JamesT‍ for Brighty‍ since her tagging wasn't working.
Live, Laugh, Love

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by law on Feb 18, 2020 1:37 pm

Hi Jhennessy and all of us grappling with dietary issues.
It is a real challenge to keep healthy nutritionally when healing, recovering, or living one's "New Normal".
I feel for you and your loved one as recovery from my basal tongue cancer radiation left me in a nutrition quandary. I was in severe oral and throat pain, so I refused to eat, swallow, drink...etc.  I sought help from my Cancer Centre-Victoria doctor, and the staff Nutritionist. They were very forthcoming with ideas and followed me for weeks. I also phoned the 811 phone number which hooks you up with the BC Cancer Centre, and if you request it, a Nutritionist  will speak with you by phone.  I am sorry you have to be a caregiver as it is such a challenge and time consuming to seek help, but it is so worth it.
Good Luck,

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by JoelMahoney on Feb 19, 2020 8:21 am

This is my first post, I too suffered from SCC metasticised to a lymph node in my neck, could not find the primary site. The hardest part I struggled with is the loss of my sense of taste which is the most challenging part of keeping your nutritional levels high. I had 35 radiation treatments and did not have to have a feeding tube. What I ate everyday was 2 cups of oatmeal porridge with brown sugar & homogenized milk, (3) Carnation Instant Breakfast with homo milk (a shaker cup full), Chunky chicken noodle soup with a can of Costco canned chicken added to it, canned tuna & salmon added to soup, mainly creamed soups like squash or broccoli. Unfortunately, your eating habits will become like the movie Groundhog Day, but you have to eat, you have to! Many times I had to plug my nose & shovel it in, you need the nutrition to keep strong. You will lean towards soft food that is mostly liquid, makes it easier going down. I have only had two Ensure in my life, just cannot force myself to down it, and I have strong willpower. One thing that I found strange is I lost all my taste of sweet, but I could taste artificial sweeteners way longer than sugar, which helped with the Carnation Instant Breakfast. You will find a “menu” of food that will be your “go to” items, do not be afraid of trying what foods work for you, do not get frustrated, just keep trying. I wish your treatment goes smoothly, best wishes! If you have any other questions, message me. 

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Feb 19, 2020 12:53 pm


So what does a lung cancer patient know about throat issues? Well I had a couple of lymph nodes and the primary tumour next to my esophagus so they manged to burn the snot right out of it in my initial treatment.

I have written elsewhere about my swallowing issues. But let me reiterate advice already given. Talk to the Oncologist. This is their specialty and this is a very common challenge. I also managed to get referral to a dietician. My challenge was keeping calories and protein high. And she was good at giving hints and direction. I was already tracking my food closely for weight loss reasons so I was able to take her lists of what I was eating and from that she could give me very specific help.

Part of the challenge is that it isn't one thing but a lot of little things. Switching to whole milk from 2%. Adding gravies and sauces. Cream in soups. Hard to do when you are used to 1700 to 2000 calories a day to get it up to 3000. My mantra is always variety and moderation. It served me well. But I also admitted at the end of the day if I hadn't reached my protein goal - a spoon and the jar of peanut butter (smooth not crunchy - makes me cringe even now) is okay. Oh and I got to bump up my evening ice cream quota too! Puddings with an extra scoop of brewer's yeast, skim milk powder or plain ole protein powder all work on that protein issue. The body is trying to repair damage so that protein stuff is important.

A lot of people mention changed or lack of taste, I didn't have that problem but I still found adding a couple of drops of peppermint or almond extract to chocolate Ensure or Boost made it interesting on the days when that was all I could do.

Let us know how things are going.

My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Nutrition and diet during throat cancer treatments?

Posted by Elsie13 on Feb 20, 2020 4:27 pm

Hello JoelMahoney‍ .  Glad you have found cancerconnection, and also sorry for what brings you here.    ACH2015‍ was diagnosed with cancer of Unknown Primary so perhaps he will say hello.  And I think JamesT‍ will say hello. 
In 2016: diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Treatment: hysterectomy, chemo, radiation. Afterwards: No Evidence of Disease!