Treatment Tips for Cancer Patients

The University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) provides a variety of resources to help patients and their family members manage the cancer treatment process. Below are some helpful tips on nutrition, stress reduction and managing expectations during treatment from our cancer experts.

Nutrition Tips*

Drink Plenty of Fluids

  • Use tap, filtered or distilled water
  • Try milkshakes or tea with honey
  • Add protein powder
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Limit caffeine

Eat Small Meals More Often

  • Cut one large meal into two smaller ones.
  • Keep snacks handy:
    • Dried fruit, pretzels or candy
  • Use kid-friendly foods:
    • Pudding or applesauce 6-packs
    • Squeezable yogurt or drinks
    • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
    • Baby foods and toddler meals

Consider a Juicer

  • Try homemade juices from organic fruits and vegetables.

Drink Your Meals

  • Use soups and stews as meals.
  • Try pureed or blended foods.
  • Consider nutritional supplements. Boost, Ensure and Instant Breakfast are all good options.

Read Food Labels

  • Avoid partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat).
  • Choose foods with short ingredient lists.
  • Limit processed and junk foods.
  • Look for high fiber items.

Choose Healthy Foods

  • Fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • Olive and canola oils
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Fruit or juice-based popsicles, frozen yogurt or dark chocolate as snacks
  • Limit red meat to two servings per week; never eat charred meats

Try a Kids or Chewable Vitamins

  • Only up to 100% of the Daily Value.
  • Tell your doctor about all vitamins.

Food Safety

  • Wash all fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid unpasteurized foods.
  • Use a food thermometer to cook meat, pork, chicken, and fish.

*NOTE: Neutropenic patients should talk with their health care team for further instruction.

After receiving chemotherapy, you may feel fine. You may have received medications that take away your nausea and pain. You may want to eat a large portion of food at once. Don't do it!


  • Eat only small portions of food at one sitting.
  • Eat often, every 2-3 hours all day long.
  • Choose foods wisely. Fatty, greasy, salty, spicy or highly seasoned foods many not be tolerated.
  • Follow food safety and good nutrition guidelines.
  • Talk with your health care professional for guidance.

Coping Skills

  • Know What to Expect: Find out all you can about your cancer.
  • Have A Support System: Consider a formal support group in addition to friends and family.
  • Stay Active: Stay involved in activities you enjoy and keep busy indoors and out, but remember to relax, rest and eat often.
  • Be Proactive: Be active in your treatment process.
  • Set Reasonable Goals: Try to gain control with a sense of purpose and set small goals one at a time.
  • Take Time to Heal: Find things that bring you joy and look for a connection to something greater than yourself.

Get Up and Move

  • Walk, stretch and get more physical activity.
  • You may exercise 10-30 minutes on most days.
  • Always check with your health care team before restarting exercise.

Practice Stress Management

  • Try meditation or deep breathing.
  • Take a yoga class. Practice stretching.
  • Consider acupuncture or Reiki.
  • Get a massage.
  • Check with your health care team before starting a new activity.

Sleep at Night

  • Sleep in a dark room. No lights or television.
  • Aim to sleep 7-8 hours per night.
  • Nap during the day if you need to, but limit nap time to 20 minutes.
  • Sleep in a calm, relaxing place.

Avoid Toxins

  • Don't smoke. Stay away from second-hand smoke.
  • Limit exposure to dry cleaning, new carpet or furniture, and paint.
  • Use vinegar or chemical-free household cleaners.
  • Limit UV light exposure (sun) to 10 minutes, three times per day