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After a cancer diagnosis, many patients start thinking about lifestyle changes that can help them fight cancer. 

“Most of the questions from cancer patients are more about lifestyle changes that are needed rather than questions regarding treatments.”, said Dr Lum Wan Wei, our consultant clinical oncologist.

Dr Lum also added that understanding is key. “Although there is an endless supply of information online, finding the right information is important to survive cancer.”

In a recent webinar, Dr Lum covered some areas that can be considered.

Diet

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Diet is a big part of cancer care. However, oftentimes, doctors do not have enough time to talk about diet in detail as there are other topics regarding cancer that need to be covered.

According to Dr Lum, “The role of a diet plan is to maintain health, increase immunity, tolerate treatment and maintain body mass”

The most important part of a cancer patient’s diet is to make sure that the food consumed is clean, cooked and freshly made.

Furthermore, cancer patients are advised to keep track of their food intake and vital state by keeping a food diary and taking notes on how the body reacts to what is consumed.

Some general rules for cancer patients include:

  • Consume only clean, cooked and freshly made food.
  • Have a diet that consists of high protein, high calories, fruits, vegetables and liquid.  
  • Limit intake of red meat and processed meat.
  • Limit the amount of salt and sugar.
  • Avoid deep frying food and opt for grilling, roasting, baking and boiling instead.
  • Remove visible fat and skin from meat

Patients are encouraged to talk to their doctors regarding personal diet plans as each diet plan depends on the type of cancer.

“Colon cancer patients, for example, who have just undergone surgery will need to retrain their colon by having 4-6 small meals a day instead of the usual 3 meals.”, said Dr Lum.

Exercise

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“When we talk about exercising, we don’t mean going running for one hour every day. Simple exercises such as walking, yoga or tai chi for 20-30 minutes a day is sufficient.”, said Dr Lum.

As for older patients, if the simple exercises are too much, ask the doctor about exercises that can be done while sitting.

While exercising is great for overall health, patients are also reminded to take adequate rest and not exercise excessively.

Emotion

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Cancer not only affects health physically, it also brings up a wide range of emotions that can be difficult to process. 

Find ways to destress, meditate and be open to accepting and asking help from others. There are plenty of support groups available in Malaysia that provide a safe space for patients to open up emotionally.

It is important for cancer patients to take care of themselves emotionally and mentally.

While these lifestyle changes are necessary to survive cancer, they are also as important to reduce the risk of cancer. 

Our Dietetics and Nutritions department is ready to provide personalized diet plans and nutritional advice, regardless of health conditions.

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