Eating well and managing nutrition-related side effects can feel overwhelming, but there are many sources of support.
Your GP and treatment team can answer questions about nutrition and physical activity, but the following experts can also help.
Learn more about these health professionals:
An accredited practising dietitian (APD) is a health professional with a four-year university degree 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. Dietitians in private practice may also have their own website.
To find an accredited practising dietitian, contact Dietitians Australia on 1800 812 942.
The term nutritionist refers to both qualified nutrition scientists and naturopathic nutritionists. Some dietitians 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. For nutrition advice specific to cancer or another disease or condition, speak to an accredited practising dietitian.
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) or 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. Both have completed a four-year university degree. They can help develop a program based on what you can do and any physical side effects related to the type of cancer you have.
Chronic Disease Management Plan
If you are referred to a dietitian, speech pathologist, exercise physiologist or physiotherapist as part of a Chronic Disease Management Plan, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate for up to 5 visits per calendar year. Most private health insurers provide a rebate depending on the type and level of cover. For more information, visit health.gov.au and search for chronic disease management.
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Jacqueline Baker, Senior Oncology Dietitian, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Lauren Atkins, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, OnCore Nutrition, VIC; Dr Tsien Fua, Head and Neck Radiation Oncology Specialist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Clare Hughes, Manager, Nutrition Unit, Cancer Council NSW; John Spurr, Consumer; Emma Vale, Senior Dietitian, GenesisCare, SA; David Wood, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.