Nutrition Spotlight:  Pancreatic cancer, latest news and how you might know if you need nutritional intervention

Virginia Cancer Specialists Practice Blog

December 10, 2019
Virginia Cancer Specialists » VCS Practice News » Cancer Types » VCS Practice News » Pancreatic Cancer » Nutrition Spotlight:  Pancreatic cancer, latest news and how you might know if you need nutritional intervention

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer—know you are not alone.

Pancreatic cancer rates have been rising in recent years. Why is this the case? With conditions as multi-faceted as cancer, it stands to reason that there is more than one driver of increasing rates.  These can include both medical and individual factors:

Examples of Medical Factors:

  1. Improved diagnosis methods;
  2. Treatment breakthroughs that allow patients to live longer.

Examples of Individual Factors:

  1. Increased cases related to changing population demographics;
  2. Changes in lifestyle norms.

Quick Fact!  Did you know that aging, gender, genes/cultural background, and factors such as smoking, obesity, and diabetes can all increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer?

What about after you have been diagnosed?  How do you know if you need nutrition intervention?

If you are a patient at Virginia Cancer Specialists, or if you have access to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) through a private provider, having an initial nutrition consultation as a baseline prior to, or in the beginning of, treatment is typically a good idea.  Your RD will evaluate any eating issues or weight loss you are having, as these are typical and often precede a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

These are some questions your RD will try to get to the bottom of:

  1. How is your weight trend? Stable? Dropping?
  2. What is your current weight compared to your typical weight?
  3. Are you having any digestive issues? If so, are these digestive issues occurring as a result of eating certain nutrients, foods, or types of foods?
  4. How is your blood sugar?
  5. Are these or any other symptoms affecting your ability to eat well and/or for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs.

Quick fact! Cancer in the pancreas can affect blood sugar control in the body, as the cells that release insulin are located there. Rapid onset diabetes can be an indicator to check if something may be going on in the pancreas.  Following diagnosis, medication may be needed to control blood sugar so that the patient can eat the calories and foods that will fuel the body during treatment.

What can you expect from a visit to the RD?

Lots of questions. Your RD will want to know information about your past, present, preferences, etc. in order to develop a personalized plan for you.  These questions will allow the RD to:

  1. Identify and prioritize any eating- and nutrition-related concerns.
  2. Discuss options for managing the priority issues.
  3. Collaboratively create a plan with you.
  4. Provide ongoing support, monitoring, evaluation, and intervention, as needed.

To find out about advancements in pancreatic cancer treatment, visit the American Cancer Society’s What’s New In Pancreatic Cancer Research page.

Virginia Cancer Specialits Nutrition Team