Good nutrition is important for the child, adolescent or young adult with cancer. It helps them grow, repair tissues damaged by therapy, have less side effects of therapy and feel better. Nutritional needs of children differ with age, sex, body size, and general state of health, as well as the type of cancer and treatment. Children with cancer often have poor appetites due to one or more of the following:

  • The hospital environment
  • Side effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation
  • Depression
  • Changes in the cells of the mouth that may alter the way food tastes
  • Side effects from medications
  • Inadequate absorption of calories, vomiting and diarrhea 

Poor nutrition contributes to poor growth. If a child with cancer maintains adequate nutrition, he or she may be more likely to:  

  • Better tolerate chemotherapy or radiation and with fewer side effects
  • Heal
  • Grow and develop
  • Maximize quality of life