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Food guide to help nurses advise blood cancer patients

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A new nutrition and dietary advice guide for haemato-oncology nurses to give to patients with neutropenia has been launched by a blood cancer research charity.

The guide – titled Eating well with neutropenia – has been produced to help blood cancer patients reduce the chances of developing infections from bacteria in their food, said Bloodwise.

“This new dietary information will really help nurses to advise patients with neutropenia”

Gill Brisley

It noted that neutropenia – where a patient has a low number of neutrophils and, therefore, a weakened immune system – is very common among blood cancer patients, particularly during and after chemotherapy.

It added that a full blood count will show whether a patient has become neutropenic, and there may be accompanying symptoms such as nausea, extreme tiredness, recurring infections, and weight loss.

The new booklet contains advice on the foods to avoid, suggestions for how to store, prepare, and cook certain items, tips to improve appetite, plus some quick and easy recipes, said the charity, formerly known as Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The guide has been written in collaboration with dieticians, healthcare professionals and also blood cancer patients.

Gill Brisley, an acute leukaemia clinical nurse specialist from the Catherine Lewis Centre at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “This new dietary information will really help nurses to advise patients with neutropenia on how to eat better.

“Food safety is important, but it is great to focus on what can be eaten, rather than what should be avoided,” she said.

Natasha Jones, specialist dietitian in haematology at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “This booklet can be given out by ward or clinic staff. It offers dietary information in a clear and readable way.”

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