Food and CancerDownload this book (pdf, 403.71 kb)
Food and Cancer: mouth problems
Some cancer treatments cause mouth ulcers or change the amount of saliva in your mouth. These changes can make your mouth feel hot or uncomfortable, and swallowing may become painful. Tooth and gum problems can occur and your lips can become dry.
- Avoid foods that sting your mouth. These include vinegar, spices, salty foods, alcohol (especially wine and spirits), very hot or very cold foods and drinks, and fruit juices.
- Drink diluted fruit juice. Mango, pear or peach juices are less irritating than citrus juices.
- Avoid dry, rough or crunchy food such as chips, nuts, crackers and toast or bread.
- Try soft or moist foods.
- Talk to your doctor about mouthwashes or medication to relieve ulcers or thrush (a white coating in the mouth). Avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol, which can sting and make a dry mouth worse.
- Chop, blend, mince or purÃ©e food to make it easier to swallow. Add stock, milk, sauce and gravy to make food moist.
- Use a straw for drinking if you have mouth ulcers.
- Suck ice blocks to cool your mouth. Try flavoured ice-cubes, e.g. frozen lemonade or juice.
- Keep your mouth fresh and clean to prevent infection. Try a mouthwash before and after meals. (Mix 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 4 cups of water, and swill and spit.)
- Tell your doctor or dietitian if you have severe difficulty swallowing for a considerable period of time. In some cases, a feeding tube may be considered.
Some people have a dry mouth (also called xerostomia) after chemotherapy or radiotherapy. A lack of saliva may make it difficult to chew and swallow. Dry mouth also may affect the way that food tastes.
- Ask your doctor, nurse or local pharmacist about mouth lubricants.
- Make sure your meals are moist - use gravies or sauces.
- Have frequent sips of fluid with your meals.
- Avoid fluids that are dehydrating, e.g. caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
- Cut your food into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Try tangy foods, such as lemons and other fruits, or fruit or mint sweets, to help stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth. If your mouth is sore as well as dry, sucking hard sweets might make it worse. Try pastilles, jubes or gums instead.