In radiation therapy, radiation is directed at the tumor so the cancer cells are unable to grow and divide. While all cells are affected by radiation, most normal cells can usually recover over time.
People with cancer often get radiation treatments 5 days a week for 2 to 9 weeks. The type of side effects radiation causes depends on the area of the body being treated, the size of the area being treated, the total dose of radiation, and the number of treatments.
The following chart shows possible eating-related side effects of radiation, according to the area of body being treated. Some of these side effects can happen during treatment while others may not happen until sometime after treatment.
Nutrition Tips for People Getting Radiation Therapy
Eating well while getting radiation may be hard to do, especially being treated at a center far from the home. If the center has a kitchen, store and easily prepare frozen foods, soups, or single servings of fruits, puddings, gelatin, ice cream, or cereals.
If there is no kitchen, keep foods on hand that do not need refrigeration, like single-serving size bowls of fruit, gelatin, or pudding; cheese or peanut butter and crackers; granola bars; or cereal.