Nutritional and psychological care for cancer patients and their caregivers
April 19, 2023
Nutritional and psychological care for cancer patients and their caregivers

Nutritional and psychological care for cancer patients and their caregivers.. Who should provide this?

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer they might, beyond the stress of the news itself, find that the healthcare system can be impersonal and disorienting. It is a reality that many factors in their lives get altered, regardless of cultural or socioeconomic aspects. Yet, the system usually doesn’t support them with these changes.

As a nutritionist and psychologist, I can attest to the enormous impact that a cancer diagnosis has on these two areas of each patient’s life. Will I feel sick? Will I be able to eat normally? What should I eat to help my body fight cancer? These are questions that most patients ask themselves regarding nutrition. Most healthcare systems do not provide nutritional assistance, which is of vital importance for, among others, the success of the treatments.

Regarding the psychological aspect, the impact that cancer has on the mental and emotional wellbeing of people and their loved ones, regardless of the resilience that each person has, is huge. Let us remember that behind each patient there are caregivers and loved ones who also suffer the impact of the diagnosis and it is extremely important that adequate support is provided to them as well.

I do not like to generalise, and this is not the intention in this message. I am aware that in many countries some patients, like for example those with digestive tract cancer, do receive some nutritional guidance, but patients with other types of cancer tend to be left out.

Regarding psychological care, a few patients in some countries do receive some type of support but their caregivers are often left out.

As a patient advocate, I want to call on health systems to consider aspects around suitable food choices, as well as psycho-emotional support for patients and caregivers. As a patient advocate, I wanted to make this remark today, as we try to eliminate deficiencies in the healthcare systems, always for the benefit of the patient.

Maria Chacón
Patient Advocate Inspire2Live