Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

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jts
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:07 pm

Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby jts » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:37 am

Hi CRC veterans

I have a rectal tumor and am about to start 6 weeks of chemo radiation. Can anyone point me to anecdotes or evidence that eating meat during this whole process helps?

I'm in my 40s and have been vegetarian since my teens. My wife was always kind-of bothered by my not eating meat. Now that I have cancer she's become really really really adamant that if I don't start eating meat, then I'm not giving a 100% effort to get healed.

I have seen many discussions here about people making radical diet changes after their diagnoses, but it's usually towards cutting out meat. Are there advocates for the other way around? All the doctors we've asked say it doesn't matter; just avoid a certain list of foods and eat healthy. I've been a competitive swimmer and bike race and triathlete at various times over the 25 years, and went through periods of weight lifting. I believe I know how to get enough protein and nutrition under normal circumstances. But maybe chemo and recovering from surgery and fighting cancer needs more?

Thanks for any advice.
Male 42
Most likely stage III, RC
DX starting 14.08.2019
Pooping blood, urgent care, colonoscopy, biopsy, CT, MRI, next step TBD
6 cm long tumor, 5cm above anocutaneous line
At least one lymph node likely
Tumor may touch seminal vesicles
23.Sept - 25.Oct Chemo-radiation, Capecitabine
Mid-December Surgery

MeAndMine
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:40 pm

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby MeAndMine » Thu Sep 19, 2019 7:01 am

I'm not sure about meat, I just know they said to get lots of protein. I would imagine any protein would help but I have read that if your blood counts get low you should have something richer like red meat. We haven't had red meat in our home in decades though.

I'm having a hard time getting enough protein myself and started chemo with radiation last week. I was told to limit dairy, no beans or raw vegetables. I have so many lists. I have plenty on the do not eat list so I can't really figure out how to get the protein in. I'll be following your thread to see if you find any good suggestions.

Good luck with your treatments!
F 56 non-smoker
8/5/2019 - Colonoscopy - 4-5 cm rectal mass, 2-3 cm proximal to anal verge and 6mm polyp
8/13/2019 - CT - No mets
8/19/2019 - Rectum: Adenocarcinoma arising from tubulovillous adenoma. Descending colon: tubular adenoma
8/23/2019 First visit with surgeon
8/26/2019 First visit with oncologist
8/26/2019 MRI
CEA 8/19/19=3.9, 8/26/19=7.1
9/6/2019 - T3N2a
9/11/2019 - Radiation begins - 5.5 weeks along with oral capecitabine

zephyr
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:31 am

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby zephyr » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:23 am

I was never told I needed to eat meat for the protein requirement, only that I needed a lot of extra protein during treatment and it's challenging to get enough without meat. I was vegan when I was diagnosed and found it difficult to get enough protein so I went vegetarian but that still wasn't enough so I added lean chicken and wild-caught salmon and that finally did the trick for me. My issue with vegetarian was that I preferred to avoid cow's milk and cheeses, partly for health reasons but also because they exacerbated my backdoor problems. Since you've been almost a life-long vegetarian, you have much more experience and can probably make a vegetarian diet work. Keep in mind that your taste buds may change during treatment so you may need a backup plan. For example, I tried to get extra protein through smoothies but got to the point where I became nauseous just thinking about drinking another one.

Here's an article that may be helpful:
https://www.oncolink.org/support/nutrition-and-cancer/during-and-after-treatment/protein-needs-during-cancer-treatment
Nov-2009 Early stage CRC found during routine colonoscopy
2010, 2011, 2014 Follow up colonoscopies, all clear
Jun-2016 CRC found during routine follow up colonoscopy, surgery, Stage 4, KRAS, MSS, inoperable lung mets
Aug-2016-May-2018 Folfox, 5FU & Avastin, 5FU, Folfiri & Cyramza
Aug/Sep-2018 YAG laser surgeries (Germany) on both lungs, 11 nodules (9 mets) removed
Nov-2018 clean CT scan
Mar-2019 New lung nodules
Apr/Jul-2019 Xeloda/Avastin, SBRT
Sept-2019 Stable! Continue Xeloda/Avastin

Rock_Robster
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:27 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby Rock_Robster » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:49 pm

Same as many others, I was advised to minimise meat (particularly red meat) but make sure I’m having lots of extra protein. So I now rely more heavily on seafood and chicken, and only eat red meat a couple of times per week to keep iron levels up.

As others have said, if you’re experienced enough that you can boost your protein levels without eating meat, then I don’t see anything wrong with this. The only area you might struggle with is iron/haemoglobin; but I don’t know enough of the food science to know how one would get this without meat.

Cheers
Rob
Male 37; Melbourne, Australia
10/2018 Dx 3.5cm RC adenocarcinoma, 12cm from AV
Mod diff, EMVI+ LVI+ PNI-
3 LN; 4 liver mets
pT3pN1aM1a; Stage IVa. MSS, NRAS (G13R)
CEA: Oct-18= 12; Nov-18= 14, Mar-19= 2.4, Aug-19 <2.0
11/18 - FOLFOX x 6
3/19 - Liver resection
4-5/19 - 25 x pelvic radiation; complete met. response
07/19 - ULAR (robot), temp ileo, 1/27 LN
08/19 - Missed liver spot
08-11/19 - FOLFOX x 1, FOLFOXIRI x 1, FOLFIRI x 5
12/19 - Planned liver resection #2 & (01/20) stoma reversal

natelaugh
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:40 pm

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby natelaugh » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:53 pm

I went to a nutrition class for before and after chemo. The presenters said when on chemo eat whatever you want or can. The goal is to maintain the weight. My dad dislike meat and anything that has strong odors. So I got him tofu and vegan food. There are also vegan protein shake you can try.

Nate.
Caregiver to 80M
DX:CC,RC,desc
11/2018 rightPain
1/19/19 scopy,path
1/23 CTscan
2/19 surgery
2/26-2/28 NGTube
2/28-3/14 TPN bc ileus
3/2 2nd surgeryCloseOpenWound
3/4-3/28 woundVac
size: 6cm Adenocarcinoma
grade Poorly
Stage IIIC T3N2aMx
PositiveLymph:5of28
BaselineCEA:68
LVI:Y
PNI:N
Surgical margins:clear
MSI:MMR (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2) Intact nuclear expression
Lynch status:N
Laparascopic, partial colectomy
CEA:3/28/19 2.8
Chemo:4/16/19-9/17/19 5FU,12cycles,every 14days,leucoverin,zofran,Dexamethasone

Amarie123
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby Amarie123 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:13 am

While on chemo, my team advised me to eat whatever I can tolerate. I was never a huge meat eater but ate a little more than usual on chemo due to my anemia and occasional craving for red meat. A little more than usual for me was about twice per month, however. The goal is to get enough protein so if you can get it in a variety, of ways, red meat or no red meat, that’s fine.

TinaFish
Posts: 178
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:11 am

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby TinaFish » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:43 pm

I'm very anti-meat as well, but I love dairy foods. When you're in chemo, sometimes your appetite is just nonexistent. Between the diarrhea and lack of appetite, I lost 30 lbs over the first three months of being diagnosed. I had to cut out the off-label drugs that I was taking. They were contributing severely to the diarrhea. I also had to make a concerted effort to EAT. I basically eat WHATEVER I feel like I can tolerate. Chocolate cake? Eat it. Because there are SO MANY things that my body cannot tolerate now that I'm on chemo. One of those things is beans. All my life, I was totally fine with beans. All my life, until I started chemo. Now, I eat beans and I'm afflicted with horrible, painful gas. Beano DOES NOT prevent it. I also can't eat a lot of fiber. So all those healthy raw veggies are off-limits. I love fish and shellfish, and I eat chicken occasionally, so I get my protein from those things, as well as dairy foods. Just get those calories in your body and stay away from foods that make your digestive system angry. That's all you can do.
F 45, single mother to son, 7 and daughter, 3
DX: stage 4 Rectal Cancer June 2019
Tumor Location: ? cm above anal verge
Tumor type: Adenocarcinoma
Tumor size: 5 cm
Tumor grade: ?
TNM code: ?
Stage : Stage IV-B
# of cancerous lymph nodes: ?
Mets: Numerous mets to liver, lungs
CEA: 22 in July; 11 as of August 15, 7 as of Sept 20
MSI status: MSS
KRAS/BRAF status: KRAS mutation
surgery: TBD
Ostomy surgery: TBD
Radiation therapy: TBD
Chemotherapy : CAPEOX+Avastin, 6 cycles, with CT scans after 3rd and 6th cycle.

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horizon
Posts: 1526
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:10 pm

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby horizon » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:20 pm

Without any malice I would say listen to your doctors and not what Internet strangers tell you to eat. I wasn't given any guidance on things that were "must have" to consume. I had already cut almost all red meat out of my diet years before I was diagnosed so there was no change there.
I'm just a dude who still can't believe he had a resection and went through chemo (currently 8 years NED). Is this real life?

Amarie123
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby Amarie123 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:38 am

I would agree to follow your doctor’s guidance. The goal is proper nutrition with enough protein to maintain your strength and your weight. Beyond that I was told (and believe personally) that there is no right or wrong food but rather food that you can tolerate and enjoy eating.

User avatar
Atoq
Posts: 352
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:31 am

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby Atoq » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:19 am

Hi,
I did not eat meat during chemoradiation, just a bit right after the surgery, because at the hospital we were served it. I did work well for me. We were adviced to eat what we like, I would add to be careful with fibers, because during chemoradiation the tissues can be irritated and it is easier to have a blockage.

All the best

Claudia
45 year old, mother of 2
Dx rectal cancer 10.2017
T3N2aMX (suspect metastasis to one lung 8 mm)
Lynch neg
CEA 1.8
Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy Xeloda + 25x2 Gy
05.12.17 laparotomic surgery for blockage, colostomy
25.01.18 laparotomic lar, hysterectomy, ileostomy
05.03.18 core needle biopsy of lung, stage IV
07.05.18 CAT scan, lung met 11 mm
04.06.18 ileo reversal
26.06.18 wedge VATS
24.08.18, 31.02.19 CAT scan
12.09.18, 06.02.19 scope, CEA 1.6
19.11.18 colonscopy
20.08.19 CAT, eco
13.09.19 scope, CEA 1.2

jts
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:07 pm

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby jts » Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:56 am

Thanks everyone for sharing your advice. Like I said, the Oncologist said it doesn't matter. They'll be checking my blood each week, so if I become deficient in something I guess they'll tell me.

I took my first pills this morning, and have the first radiotherapy this afternoon. It feels good to be doing something besides waiting and talking.
Male 42
Most likely stage III, RC
DX starting 14.08.2019
Pooping blood, urgent care, colonoscopy, biopsy, CT, MRI, next step TBD
6 cm long tumor, 5cm above anocutaneous line
At least one lymph node likely
Tumor may touch seminal vesicles
23.Sept - 25.Oct Chemo-radiation, Capecitabine
Mid-December Surgery

Rock_Robster
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:27 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Do I need to eat meat during chemoradiation?

Postby Rock_Robster » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:04 am

jts wrote:I took my first pills this morning, and have the first radiotherapy this afternoon. It feels good to be doing something besides waiting and talking.

Great job jts. First step on the journey taken. Good luck for all the ones that follow. The good news is there’s many people here walking with you.

Cheer
Rob
Male 37; Melbourne, Australia
10/2018 Dx 3.5cm RC adenocarcinoma, 12cm from AV
Mod diff, EMVI+ LVI+ PNI-
3 LN; 4 liver mets
pT3pN1aM1a; Stage IVa. MSS, NRAS (G13R)
CEA: Oct-18= 12; Nov-18= 14, Mar-19= 2.4, Aug-19 <2.0
11/18 - FOLFOX x 6
3/19 - Liver resection
4-5/19 - 25 x pelvic radiation; complete met. response
07/19 - ULAR (robot), temp ileo, 1/27 LN
08/19 - Missed liver spot
08-11/19 - FOLFOX x 1, FOLFOXIRI x 1, FOLFIRI x 5
12/19 - Planned liver resection #2 & (01/20) stoma reversal


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