Throughout the conference, we’ve posted blogs sharing our latest research on gastric cancer and melanoma. Today’s blog is a short post covering our research on patient-clinician communication about eating and nutrition.
Below see our Q-and-A with our Senior Director of Research, Alexandra Zaleta, PhD, on the topic.
Q: Why was it important that the Research and Training Institute (RTI) conduct a research study on eating and nutrition?
A: Through the research we do at at the Cancer Support Community, we hear from patients and their caregivers again and again, that eating and nutrition is a top concern for many. For example, in our Cancer Experience Registry, a research survey for anyone ever diagnosed with cancer and for caregivers, people are persistently concerned about nutrition – it’s a topic they want to know more about and it is very important to people, regardless of what kind of cancer they were diagnosed with. When we hear so many patient and caregiver voices telling us that eating and nutrition is a priority throughout the cancer experience, we know we need to design research that looks more closely at these concerns.
Q: What role do health care teams play in a patient’s eating and nutritional concerns?
A: Health care and oncology providers can play an important role in supporting patients and their families around eating and nutrition. We know that many people experience challenges with nutrition as a result of their cancer treatments and side effects. Many people also worry more generally about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle during and after treatment. We also know that many people do not talk to their doctors about these things and don’t feel comfortable talking to their doctors about this topic. There can be a lot of reasons behind that, but the point of this study was to understand more about how people feel about their health care team’s ability to support them around eating and nutrition and what might explain some of those feelings that they may be having.
Q: If a patient has concerns related to their body image and/or nutrition and eating, what should they do?
A: At CSC, we want people to know that they are not alone in their concerns. First, we do encourage people to try and reach out to their doctor or another member of their health care team to bring up these concerns. They can also ask their doctor or their health care team about whether they can be referred to talk to someone who is a specialist in this area, for example, a registered dietician. CSC also has many support resources around eating and nutrition on our website. They can also call CSC’s Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 where they can talk to trained counselors who can help support and connect them to the right kinds of resources on this topic.