What is an oncology nutritionist?
Oncology nutritionist, thoughts like eating less sugar and more fiber, taking antioxidants, cutting out foods that contain carcinogens, and drinking ginger tea to calm the stomach may seem like common sense to some. But spreading this kind of information is one of the many tasks of an oncology nutritionist. Her job ranges from helping the patient deal with mouth sores or nausea, to teaching nutrient-rich recipes that can be made in a blender and delivered through a feeding tube that helps maintain the patient’s strength during the treatment.
Oncology Nutritionist is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Oncology Specialist (CSO), credentials received by the American Dietetic Association. Certification for Oncology Nutritionists was introduced in 2008 and is administered by the Diabetes Registration Commission. CSO candidates must have 2000 hours of practice and pass the exam.
Oncology nutritionist or oncology nurses who do not have a CSO available at their hospital can refer patients for their oncology nutrition dietetic practice group to the “find cancer dietitian” section on the American dietetic association website. The site also provides other nutritional oncology resources.
Oncology nutritionist education
The educational path to becoming an Oncology Nutritionist is very detailed. Due to the health implications, nutritionists working in this particular area must be extensively trained. It starts at the undergraduate level and leads to actual practice as a nutritionist. See the educational path to becoming an oncology nutritionist here:
Oncology Nutritionist Bachelor’s Degree – Students must have a bachelor’s degree in the fields of nutrition, dietetics, or health. Graduates must cover the degree of materials necessary to become registered dietitians. This is the first step in turning your career into a nutritional specialty.
Registered Dietitian: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers an exam for graduates seeking to become registered dietitians. Before graduates write this test, they must also complete an approved internship, which will give them practical experience. Passing the exam is the final step to becoming an RD.
This allows nutritionists to begin practicing, in the hope of being able to meet the licensing requirements in the states where it is required. By the time nutritionists start practicing, they will have learned the key points, including:
- Food Science
- Sickness and nutrition
- Food allergies
- Human anatomy
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Nutritional counseling
The curriculum varies according to each university or college. The labeling of the indicated specialty is also different, as some schools offer nutrition as a specialty, while others title their program Dietetics. There are also majors in Health and Wellness or Food Science at the undergraduate level. The basic principles and main points of these programs are the same.
The Accreditation Council for Nutrition and Dietetics Education (ACEND) approves certain educational programs as a way to certify compliance with required educational standards in nutrition. The ACEND approved program is intended to teach students the concepts and skills required of a registered nutritionist.
Oncology nutritionist job description and skills
Oncology nutritionists work directly with cancer patients, in addition to certification with physicians and medical teams. Cancer patients can be actively treated through their nutritional habits. Others use nutrition as a supplement in an attempt to beat their particular cancer. The exact condition of each patient is different and determines the different nutritional strategies to use in the fight against cancer. Oncology nutritionists generally formulate nutritional plans to achieve the following results:
- Improve energy
- Increase strength
- Maintain body weight
- Reduce the risk of infection.
- Accelerate recovery time
- Eliminate nutritional deficiencies
In some settings, cancer nutritionists work under the supervision of a clinical nutritionist. They work closely with physicians and oncology departments to formulate a nutritional care plan for each patient. And the functions of the Oncological Nutritionist extend to the following areas:
- Assessment of the patient’s response to treatment
- Tracking nutrient intake
- Identify food tolerance levels
- Tube monitors feeding
- Modify the prescribed diet
The oncology nutritionist or oncology department often relies heavily on the treatment of patients. It also extends to decisions made by an oncology nutritionist. It is more than a preventive measure. In some cases, it is an attempt to completely defeat the disease, and in other cases, it is a last-ditch effort to find a solution. A better understanding of how metabolism affects clinical nutrition is needed.
In addition to the use of clinical knowledge, there is also a demand for interpersonal skills among oncology nutritionists. They need to explain to each patient all the nutritional policies and how each one affects them. Analytical skills are required, especially when it comes to interpreting data obtained from the laboratory. The work environment changes from time to time and the need for the immediate adjustment of nutrition plans may require an oncology nutritionist.
Students also have the opportunity to study for a Master of Science in Nutrition. It builds on the foundation of knowledge gained at the undergraduate level and typically takes two years to complete.
After diagnosis, there is a lot to treat cancer patients. Oncology dietitian Nicole Giller works with patients to reduce the confusion surrounding food during and after cancer treatment. Giller said her work was gifted with the ability to discuss advanced research with cancer patients and survivors in hopes of optimizing treatment outcomes and giving them the confidence to eat the foods they love.
What are the specific challenges faced by cancer patients when it comes to nutrition?
Some cancer patients endure misinformation from the Internet, advice from doctors, or friends and family who are not nutrition experts. It often exacerbates irregular eating patterns after diagnosis. Even when a cancer patient is in remission, people throughout their lives will see and discuss their surviving food choices. Going through cancer diagnosis and treatment is painful – food insecurity and confusion are part of it.
Another common challenge is that patients want to follow a cancer diet as soon as they are diagnosed. However, nutrition for cancer prevention begins only after cancer treatment ends. This includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. For example, to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, it is recommended to limit red meat to 18 ounces per week or less as further treatment. However, patients need all the protein they can get during treatment. Therefore, patients should continue to eat red meat along with other proteins as much as possible during treatment.
What are the myths you often see when it comes to diet and cancer?
I listen to all kinds of myths. One is that sugar feeds cancer. This is a lie. Eating sugar will not make your cancer worse, and limiting it will not improve results. According to research, it is concluded that cancer cells consume more sugar (glucose) than normal cells, studies have not shown that eating sugar can make your cancer worse or that if you stop eating sugar, cancer will stop or cure. However, a diet high in sugar contributes to being overweight, and esophagus risk is associated with an increased risk of developing a variety of cancers.
Some say that soy should be avoided to reduce the risk of breast cancer. In contrast, soybeans do not contain estrogens. Soy contains isoflavones that help reduce the risk of breast cancer. This protective effect is less dramatic for women who eat less soy or begin eating soy later in life. Soy contains protein, isoflavones, and fiber, all of which provide health benefits.
I have heard that patients should choose all organics. However, there are no significant nutritional differences between organic and organic foods.
What positive results can cancer patients see from working with a dietitian?
Dietitians are an essential part of treating cancer patients. Your job is to use medical nutrition therapy that focuses on managing symptoms, preventing weight loss, and maintaining proper nutritional status during cancer treatment. Studies on nutritional interventions concluded that by working with a dietitian on functional outcomes, including better tolerance to treatment, shortened treatment intervals, weight loss, confidence in food choices, and rapid recovery after treatment.
How does diet influence treatment?
During cancer treatment, we focus on two main areas: increasing protein intake with all meals and maintaining body weight. The presence of cancer induces changes in protein and amino acid metabolism. Some changes in protein metabolism in cancer patients may appear as increased muscle atrophy, increased liver protein synthesis, negative nitrogen balance, or other problems. Protein requirements double after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Meeting growing needs fights negative metabolic protein changes to maintain proper nutritional status and prevent malnutrition.
People with cancer generally have higher calorie (and protein) needs due to a shorter nutritional period before or after the diagnostic and metabolic effects of cancer and its treatments. The main goal of cancer patients is to maintain lean body mass during treatment; We can control this by making sure that patients do not lose or gain weight. Some cancers have high energy costs. Patients should work with a dietitian once a week to see how protein and calories should be adjusted during treatment and to support the best possible cancer treatment outcomes. Both excessive and low diets can have detrimental effects.