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What To Eat And Avoid When You Have Neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma refers to a type of cancer that emerges from neuroblasts, which are the immature and undeveloped nerve cells. This cancer is commonly seen affecting children of age 5 years or below.(2)

What To Eat And Avoid When You Have Neuroblastoma?

Eating a nutritious diet is of extreme importance, especially in children who are being treated for neuroblastoma. Children affected by cancer tend to have a poor or loss of appetite. This may be due to one or many of the following reasons-

  • The environment in the hospital
  • Depression
  • Side effects as a result of radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Alterations in the mouth cells leading to taste-changes
  • Side effects of medications used to treat cancer
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Malabsorption of calories(1)

A loss in nutrients may lead to or growth in the child. If the child eats a healthy and a nutritious diet, he may have a better chance at-

  • Tolerating the chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions
  • Healing
  • Growth and development
  • Improve the quality of life to the fullest(1)

Considering the special nutritional requirements of children affected by and treated for cancer, special diets may be recommended for them. These may comprise of the following-

The children affected by cancer may be having increased calorie needs. They may also have increased protein needs. Protein is required so that the body can grow and repair itself. Necessary calories can make sure that the body is growing, repairing itself and fighting weight loss. If the child’s diet does not include enough calories, his doctor may recommend adding eggs, cheese, peanut butter, milk, etc. to the diet(1)

Even if the necessary amounts of calories and protein are given, the child may be unable to eat properly, due to reasons like loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, side-effects of medicines, etc. in such cases, feeding through the tube may be needed to compensate for the loss of nutrients(1)

A child’s diet after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma and undergoing treatment for it will depend upon various factors, such as what other complications the child is facing. These may include one or many of the following-

If the child has a poor or loss of appetite

  • Small, more frequent snacks and meals may help
  • Changing the surrounding in which the child eats may help a lot
  • Changing the time and place when and where the child eats may help too
  • High calorie and high protein snacks and meals may help to keep your child fuller for longer and give him energy(1)

If the child has mouth sores-

  • Soft food that is easy to eat should be given
  • Irritants to the mouth should be avoided. These may include citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, salty foods, rough, dry and coarse foods, hot foods
  • Big pieces of foods should be avoided and smaller pieces should be given(1)

If the child is experiencing a change in taste-

  • Salty or seasoned foods may help
  • Flavored seasonings may help
  • Serving foods at different temperatures may make all the difference that you need
  • Visually appealing and good-smelling food can stir his appetite
  • Help him with regular rinsing and brushing of mouth(1)

If your child has a dry mouth

  • Sweet or sour foods may help stimulate the saliva
  • Candy or popsicles may do the same trick
  • Give easy to swallow, soft foods
  • Encourage small sips of water
  • Give more of liquids(1)

If your child has nausea, vomiting or diarrhea-

  • Give easy to digest foods
  • Avoid gastric irritants like fried, spicy, hot foods
  • Give small and frequent meals
  • Avoid high fiber foods like nuts, whole grains, raw fruits, and vegetables, etc.
  • Limit the intake of milk and milk products
  • Offer enough fluids through the day(1)


A good diet may help in healing neuroblastoma and should be treated as a supportive treatment.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 18, 2019

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