Nutrition and dietetics

Dietitians at The Royal Marsden are all experienced to assess and treat a wide range of nutritional issues or concerns that can develop as a result of a diagnosis of cancer or its treatment.

The department provides a clinical service to both in and out patients. It is important to try and maintain a good nutritional status during and after your treatment. Dietitians are available to provide advice on eating well when you are having cancer treatment. If you are able to eat a healthy diet with a variety of foods, it should give you a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. However, if your appetite is poor, you may wish to see a dietitian who can check whether you are eating a balanced diet. You may need a supplement to meet your daily requirements.

Dietitians help in trying to prevent and treat nutritional symptoms in advising what to eat and drink. Some problems that dietitians may be able to help with include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Taste changes
  • Nausea and vomiting (you can also read more about nausea and vomiting)
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

Dietitians will also be involved if a patient requires tube (enteral) feeding or intravenous (parenteral) nutrition. 

For more information, see eating well when you have cancer. You can also watch our video guides about how to manage nausea or constipation during chemotherapy treatment. 

After treatment

Once treatment is finished the aim is to help you achieve as healthy a diet as possible by following recommendations on good nutrition. Further information is available from the World Cancer Research Fund. You can also attend a one-off advice clinic for outpatients called Spring into Action, offering tailored advice and information in conjunction with physiotherapy.

Supplements

It is important to remember that some vitamins and minerals can be harmful when taken in high doses and can react with some medications. Ask your dietitian, doctor or pharmacist before starting to take supplements. The dietitians are able to provide you with simple, evidence-based advice on how to follow a sensible, well-balanced diet and how to maintain good nutrition. They may also give advice on how to use supplements if this is appropriate.

How can I see a dietitian?

If you are an inpatient and feel you need to see a dietitian you can ask your doctor or nurse. You may be seen during your inpatient stay or be given an outpatient appointment.

If you are an outpatient you can contact the dietitians directly or ask for a written or verbal referral from any member of the team caring for you. A dietitian will then contact you by post with an appointment. There are morning and afternoon appointments available each week at both hospitals.
Unfortunately, our dietitians are unable to see patients for dietary advice that is unrelated to cancer.

There is no charge for dietetics for NHS patients. Private patients may need to check individual policies but dietetics is usually included as part of an episode of care.

Specialist Dietitians are available to treat children and young people.

The dietetic department is open Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays, between 08.30-16.30 at Chelsea and Sutton.

Chelsea: Nutrition and Dietetic Service: 020 7808 2814
Sutton: Nutrition and Dietetic Service: 020 8661 3066