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Program provides nutritional counseling for cancer patients

AUGUSTA --- For cancer patients and caregivers seeking information and counseling on nutrition, the American Cancer Society offers its Dietitian on Call program. The service is free, providing individualized telephone counseling, informational materials and follow-up as needed.

Dietitian on Call is staffed by registered dietitians who are certified specialists in oncology and provide management of treatment side effects, economic alternatives to canned nutritional drinks, assistance with weight and appetite loss after treatment, and more.

"The program is extremely valuable to those without access to dietitian services," said Sheri Knecht, a dietitian specializing in oncology who launched the program in 2000. "It is such a relief for them to have someone help prioritize the issues and provide suggestions. Everyone is so appreciative of this service which makes our jobs very rewarding." She and two additional dietitians staff the program and co-authored the cookbook, What to Eat during Cancer Treatment.

During and after cancer treatment, many cancer survivors face a unique set of nutritional challenges or at the very least, they have many nutrition questions. The South Atlantic Division is the only division in the country to offer free access to registered dietitians as part of their Cancer Resource Network programs and services.

The dietitians are certified oncology specialists who provide personalized nutrition counseling for each constituent. The program is available for those with cancer (or their caregivers) and their medical teams before, during and after treatment. Side-effects of cancer treatment may cause difficulty eating and the dietitians provide suggestions to help manage this element of their cancer burden. In addition to phone counseling, they also send written materials and provide follow-up support as needed.

Callers are encouraged to call as often as needed if they have ongoing questions or concerns. After treatment is complete many desire assistance with weight management and healthy lifestyle strategies to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Dietitian on Call is offered in the Society's South Atlantic Division, which includes Georgia and six other states and the District of Columbia. To request Dietitian on Call, call toll-free 1-888-227-6333.

Web posted on Thursday, July 29, 2010

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