The nutrition goal for people with pancreatic cancer should be to consume an adequate amount of fluids, calories, protein, vitamins and minerals each day to maintain a healthy weight and feel their best.

Making the healthiest choices possible to maintain good nutrition can help patients minimize the side effects of treatment, recover from surgery and maintain the best quality of life. However, certain foods can lead to discomfort among pancreatic cancer patients.

Foods that pancreatic cancer patients should consider avoiding include:

  • High-fat foods, including whole or 2 percent milk (reduced fat), high-fat meats or cheeses, rich desserts
  • Many fast foods, fried foods and foods with added oil, butter, margarine, sour cream, cream cheese or full-fat salad dressing
  • Spicy foods, especially those containing garlic, onions or hot peppers
  • Refined/simple carbohydrates, such as those containing high fructose corn syrup, or sucrose, especially if the patient is experiencing dumping syndrome
  • High-fiber foods
  • Milk and dairy products, if lactose intolerant
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks)

“For individuals with multiple side effects it can be complicated to figure out what is best to eat. It can be helpful to keep a diary of food intake and symptoms to review and look for patterns of what foods make symptoms worse, better or are neutral,” said Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietitian at MD Anderson Cancer Center and a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). “Due to these factors, it is important for pancreatic cancer patients to have the support of a registered dietitian.

Patients with pancreatic cancer often have many questions and concerns about nutritional care. MyPlate and American Institute for Cancer Research can be used as a resource for healthy diets; however, patients and caregivers should understand that each patient has individualized nutritional needs. Therefore, it is important to consult with a registered dietitian or doctor before making any dietary changes.

Contact a PanCAN Patient Services Case Manager
For more information about diet and nutrition, including our booklet with specific information for pancreatic cancer patients, contact PanCAN Patient Services.

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