In cancer treatment, patient and ‘target-oriented’ nutrition regime should be applied.

vegetable-plate-mealThe importance of nutrition factor in cancer treatment cannot be ignored.
Saying that the importance of nutrition in cancer treatment is being better understood with each passing day, President of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Association and Ankara University Faculty of Medicine Hematology Department Lecturer Prof. Dr. Osman İlhan stated that ‘target-specific’ nutrition methods come to the fore according to the patient and the condition of the disease, and this directly affects the success of the treatment. Having many scientific studies on nutrition in cancer, Prof. Dr. Osman İlhan answered the questions of ONCOLife and Medical Academy Ankara Representative Hatice Pala Kaya about the developments in this field.

Much has been written and said about the dietary habits that cancer patients should pay attention to. What is the importance of reaching the right information that will show the relationship between cancer and nutrition for patients and their relatives?

osman-ilhan1prof. Dr. Ilhan: There is a lot of information on this subject in the visual and written media. However, since some issues are discussed a lot, it must have a scientific basis. During the treatment planning of hematology and oncology patients during my thirty-five years of medical practice, patients always asked me ‘what should I eat and what should I not eat?’ they asked. I would also make recommendations based on current literature. But I could understand that they were not satisfied. During my research, I saw that a book called ‘Cancer and Nutrition’ was published by ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology). We obtained the translation rights of the book by applying to the European Cancer Society. The most important reason for me to translate this book into Turkish was to create a resource that will help hematology – oncology patients and their relatives in the light of scientific data.

This book has been prepared to help patients and their families better understand the complex relationship between cancer and nutrition. So, our claim is to introduce a basic approach. Firstly, ‘Is there a relationship between nutrition and cancer?’, ‘How should a patient with cancer be fed?’ and ‘How should this treatment be directed in the advanced stage of cancer?’ This booklet provides basic answers to some questions. I believe that this book will be a solid foundation for discussion.

Proper nutrition in cancer treatment improves chances of survival

What information do cancer patients need most about nutrition?

prof. Dr. Ilhan: Although there are educational demands from cancer patients and survivors on a variety of topics, including cancer treatment options, cancer treatment resources, the course of the disease, cancer risk, and the long-term complications of such treatment, many of the questions raised repeatedly focus on more everyday issues. It can be summarized as follows; What should I eat? In his study of 879 adult cancer patients, Zebrack took a deep dive into the information these patients need most. Not surprisingly, the need for more information on diet and nutrition was at the top of the list.

Interestingly, however, around 50% of respondents said that their training needs were not met. The purpose of this directory is to meet these educational needs. The booklet has been prepared with the aim of providing education resources on nutrition and cancer for health care providers, namely doctors, to make them more knowledgeable and to educate patients and their families on nutrition and cancer-related issues.

When different opinions come from experts in cancer treatment, patients are confused and the patient is not sure what to believe. What approach should be taken in this regard?

prof. Dr. Ilhan: Actually, we want to answer patients’ questions in current meetings, but there are differences of opinion on some issues. All that has been said is true, but the approaches are different. This book educates physicians first and then patients. But from now on, I think a physician can make a personalized nutrition program for each patient based on his own experience. Not generalized treatment, but patient-oriented, that is, targeted therapy, targeted nutrition approach should be adopted.

High levels of vitamin D increase chances of survival against cancer

In addition, there should be a multidisciplinary approach by a medical oncologist, nutritionist and psychiatrist in the treatment of cancer. Also, during the treatment, not only the patient, but also the patient’s relative should behave in the right way. What should a cancer patient do during chemotherapy, what should he do in advanced cases, or what should a patient’s relative do? Example; The patient has received chemotherapy, cannot eat, the patient’s relative forces him to ‘eat’. How will the patient eat in this case? In this book, it is explained in detail in which cases the patient should be fed by mouth, in which cases intravenously or with a catheter.

One of the most emphasized issues in recent years is the relationship between obesity and cancer. What would you like to say about this subject?

prof. Dr. Ilhan: Obesity is a very dangerous situation and many problems are seen in obese people. I am of the view of calorie restriction rather than diet. Everyone is on a diet in Turkey today, but I think this is inconvenient. Because the treatment process is already a stressful process. The patient should also not be under stress by being put on a diet. For example; chemotherapy was given to the patient, his life expectancy was extended, but his quality of life deteriorated, this is not the goal. First of all, quality of life and life expectancy should be considered together. The main issue I care about in nutrition and cancer is the information that physicians who treat patients should know. Unless you follow all this information together, there is a problem.

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As the President of the Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Association, can you give us information about the purpose and work of your association?

prof. Dr. Ilhan: Turkish hematology has come to a certain place not only in the national but also in the international arena in recent years and it draws a very successful graph. However, we realized that the average treatments did not achieve the desired results. As it is known, since the 2000s, targeted therapies have come to the fore. The most important of these is cellular therapy. Cellular therapy is the application of cellular therapy, primarily stem cell, tumor vaccine, tissue engineering, gene therapy and finally plastic surgery. Our aim here is to standardize cellular therapy and regenerative medicine and to implement the latest developments in Turkey and to ensure that this is under one roof.

Our association was officially established in 2008. The founders of the association consist of a group such as hematologists, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, geneticists, tissue engineers, pathologists and embryologists. Our association is a multidisciplinary association. We established ANTKÖK with the students of Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, and now the TÜRKKÖK group consisting of 20 faculties. Today, at the Regenerative Medicine Symposium organized by Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University and the Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Association, we discussed topics such as the latest point of cellular therapy and tissue engineering from the cell. Our aim at the meeting, in cooperation with Çanakkale University, is to try to raise awareness in cooperation with scientists and medical school students in a region with the most important historical texture of Turkey. From now on, we will try to move towards organ and tissue transplantation and repair, regeneration, rather than just bone marrow transplantation. We discussed this issue at today’s meeting.

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