What is the Role of a Registered Dietitian?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a healthcare professional who has completed an accredited undergraduate program that meets the academic requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration. As a part of their training, dietitians receive instruction in areas of medical disease - including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract – and the diet therapy/ nutritional care specific to these conditions. After completing a training component and successfully passing a written registration examination, a dietitian is permitted to use the title Registered Dietitian. The RD must participate in continuing education to maintain their registered status and to stay abreast of new information and treatments.
What Can a Registered Dietitian Do For Me?
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can change your ability to tolerate foods and beverages, and can increase your nutrient requirements from your usual level. Your dietitian can.
- Help you to stay as well nourished as possible during your cancer treatment and beyond.
- Assess your tolerance of oral diet and help you implement changes if needed to help meet your specific nutritional need.
- Provide education to you and your caregiver on the proper therapeutic diet you need, as well as healthy eating strategies to promote overall good health and survivorship.
- Help to determine if a nutritional supplement is necessary, and assist you in finding one that meets your nutrient goals.
Enteral Feeds / Tube Feeds
Enteral feedings (or tube feedings) are nutrient-rich liquids that are given through a tube inserted into the patient’s digestive tract. This is needed when the patient cannot eat by mouth or cannot meet nutritional needs with an oral diet alone. The dietitian will determine what formula and method of tube feeding is best for the patient and makes adjustments based on the patient’s tolerance of the feeding.
Parenteral nutrition (TPN) refers to feeding a patient with nutrient-rich fluids through the vein, or intravenously. This is a complex method of feeding a patient, and is only used for patients who cannot meet their nutritional needs by mouth alone and cannot tolerate tube feedings. The dietitian helps the doctor determine when this method of feeding is needed, the amount and type of nutrients that are given, and monitor patient tolerance.
Request to see a Dietitian
You can receive individualized nutrition counseling by asking your medical team here at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to order a nutrition consultation.