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Online Story
  May 26, 2007 Sat
Need for dieticians to advise cancer patients on nutrition information
SO MUCH money has been spent on cancer research but not much progress has been made.

Even with advanced medical technology, many people are still diagnosed with late-stage cancers.

People with rare cancers are worst off because doctors tend to have limited knowledge on their particular type of cancer.

Leukaemia and lymphoma cancer patients are also not spared. Very often, haematologists grappled with the results of numerous blood and bone marrow tests before reaching a conclusive diagnosis. In some cases, they could not even be sure about the diagnosis.

New chemotherapy drugs are expensive. In most instances they merely serve as palliative care - giving some extra time to the patients.

Hence, I reckon there is no real medical breakthrough. Cancer patients will be bankrupted if they live long enough.

Many cancer patients have become richer (covered under critical illnesses insurance policies) and are big spenders on health products and supplements.

Most of these health supplements are overpriced and not regulated by HSA if they are not sold as Chinese proprietary medicine. If only HSA imposes stringent requirements, cancer patients will enjoy value-for-money health supplements. It is a known fact that the actual contents of most supplements fall short of what is indicated on their labels.

Cancer patients find it stressful when their friends promote products of MLM companies to them. While some show genuine concern, I reckon it is best to follow the golden rule: 'Let the patients decide what is best for them'.

Very often, patients are challenged - 'Health versus money - which is more important to you?'

My advice - there are many good products in the market. Take your time to do your own research on the type of health supplements that will be most beneficial to your kind of cancer. Buy only reliable and affordable products that offer value for money and with proven efficacy. Each patient's cancer strategy is unique.

Qualified dietitians of local cancer medical institutions/centres and hospitals should take time to provide cancer patients with individualised and in-depth nutrition information that they will need during cancer treatment and recovery. At the same time, make them less vulnerable to the cancer 'entrepreneurs'. Nutritional care is a component of true comprehensive cancer care.

AVA should also take a more pro-active role in helping farmers grow pesticide-free produce and impose stringent checks on imported produce. This will help to build a healthier nation in line with HPB's campaign on consumption of more vegetables and fruits.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)

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