Practical help and information
Eating well and managing nutrition-related side effects can feel overwhelming. Specially trained health professionals can offer support and answer questions.
Your GP, cancer specialists and cancer nurses can all help answer questions about nutrition and physical activity, but you may also need guidance from the experts listed below.
Learn more about these health professionals:
An accredited practising dietitian (APD) is a health professional with a university qualification in science, nutrition and dietetics. Using scientific evidence, they modify diets to help treat disease symptoms and to get the most out of food without the use of supplements.
Dietitians work in all public and most private hospitals. You can ask your cancer care team if they can arrange an appointment with the dietitian. The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) can also help you locate an accredited practising dietitian in your area who specialises in cancer. Call 1800 812 942. Dietitians in private practice may also have their own website.
If your doctor refers you to a dietitian as part of a Chronic Disease Management Plan, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate for up to five visits per calendar year. Most private health insurers provide a rebate depending on the type and level of cover.
The term nutritionist refers to both qualified nutrition scientists and naturopathic nutritionists. Some dietitians also call themselves nutritionists. Nutritionists working in the natural health industry should have at least a diploma of nutrition, or equivalent, from a university or naturopathic college. Those working within a naturopathic framework are usually employed in private practice or in a holistic medical or complementary therapies centre.
If you choose to see a nutritionist, it is important to know that they are qualified. The Nutrition Society of Australia keeps a register of accredited nutritionists − call 02 9431 8655.
A speech pathologist is a health professional who diagnoses and treats people having difficulties with speech, language, fluency and voice. Speech pathologists also help people who have problems swallowing food and drinks. They need a university degree and may work in hospitals or in the community.
To find a speech pathologist, contact Speech Pathology Australia on 1300 368 835 (outside Victoria), 9642 4899 (Victoria only).
Physical activity is also important in managing your health and wellbeing. The most appropriate health professionals to design an exercise program for people with cancer are exercise physiologists and physiotherapists. You may be able to see an exercise professional at your cancer treatment centre, or your GP may be able to refer you to one as part of a Chronic Disease Management Plan.
You can search for an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP) by name, location or specialty at Exercise & Sports Science Australia’s website, or for a physiotherapist at the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s website at choose.physio/findaphysio.
Jenelle Loeliger, Head of Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rebecca Blower, Public Health Advisor, Cancer Prevention, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Julia Davenport, Consumer; Irene Deftereos, Senior Dietitian, Western Health, VIC; Lynda Menzies, A/Senior Dietitian – Cancer Care (APD), Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Janice Savage, Consumer.
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