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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the dietary recommendation for someone with oesophageal cancer?

    Are there any recommended foods/liquids for someone with oesophageal cancer? (for nutritional purposes and ease of consumption)
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  • 2


    Dr Salena Ward

    Bariatric (Obesity) Surgeon, General Surgeon, Upper GI Surgeon (Abdominal)

    I am a specialist Upper Gastrointestinal (gut) Surgeon, who performs surgery for weight loss, tumours of stomach and oesophagus, reflux, hiatus hernia and gallstones. I … View Profile

    The recommendation for someone with oesophageal cancer is that they maintain their nutrition.  One marker of this is weight.  Hence diet should aim to maintain a steady weight.

    If you have a normal weight and have not lost weight with the cancer then you should aim to eat a balanced healthy diet.  If you have any narrowing of the oesophagus with difficulty in swallowing then you should stick to soft mashable and/or liquidised foods. The foods that should be avoided, that seem most ‘sticky’ are fresh bread and pastries, and chunks of meat.  Food may even need to be pureed.

    It is not uncommon for people with oesophageal cancer to lose weight due to restricted eating due to food sticking in the oesophagus, and also cancer can directly cause weight loss itself.  Hence these patients who have or are losing weight should try to eat to stop the loss of weight and if possible even eat enough to regain some of the weight lost (although this is often difficult).  

    To stop weight loss or to regain weight, higher calorie foods and liquids should be eaten. So for instance, full fat foods should be eaten, no low fat diet. As mentioned earlier, f there is any difficulty swallowing you should stick to soft/mashable and/or liquidised foods, and avoid fresh breads, pastries and chunks of meat.  There are also high calorie drinks available, which I suggest in this situation, which can supplement food intake or even sometime replace food intake when the swallowing difficulty worsens. There are a variety of brands of high calorie/high protein drinks and you should speak to your dietician, surgeon, GP and/or pharmacist about obtaining these.

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