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Nutrition and Pleural Mesothelioma

Nutrition is a critical component of pleural mesothelioma care. Eating a healthy diet with adequate calories and plenty of protein will improve treatment tolerance and can lead to a better prognosis.

Nutrition is important to pleural mesothelioma patients for one reason: Impact on prognosis.

Patients who maintain their weight and eat well before, during and after treatment do better than their poorly nourished peers.

Eating well can mean different things to different people. When it comes to cancer, two dietary components matter most: Protein and calories.

Nutrition Before Treatment

One early sign of pleural mesothelioma is weight loss. Before a diagnosis, losing weight without trying can signal something is wrong in the body.

Unfortunately, losing weight without trying can compromise the body’s ability to recover from medical procedures and treatments.

Authors in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice noted 34 percent of cancer patients have already experienced weight loss by the time they receive a diagnosis.

Avoiding weight loss before mesothelioma treatment will keep your body ready for whatever cancer therapies your oncologist deems best for you.

Nutrition Action Items to Prepare for Treatment

Balance your plate with a combination of healthy calories and protein sources.

For meals and snacks, focus one half of your plate on calories:

The other half of your plate should include protein:

Nutrition During Treatment

During pleural mesothelioma treatment, you may experience side effects that diminish your ability to eat your usual diet. Focus on ways to get as much nutrition as possible into each bite.

Proper nutrition during treatment can decrease the severity of side effects and increase the likelihood that you are able to receive all planned therapies.

Maintaining weight helps you cope with the physical and emotional stresses of treatment.

Nutrition Action Items During Treatment

Focus on protein and calories, as you did with the time before treatment.

Add high-calorie foods and beverages to boost calories:

Break normal eating routines:

Nutrition After Treatment

Continue following tips for eating during treatment until you begin to feel better and get your strength back.

After treatment symptoms and side effects have subsided, move your focus to eating for recovery.

Once the stresses of treatment are no longer a factor, your body can more efficiently use protein and calories to rebuild red and white blood cells.

Nutrition Action Items After Treatment

This will allow for recovery of strength and immune function.

Continue making protein a key focus of your nutrition plan:

If your weight is stable, gradually add in more fruit and vegetables:

Include healthy fats:

As always, consult your doctor and dietitian with any changes in your diet or ability to eat.

Consult with your medical team if you have questions about what you should be eating before, during or after pleural mesothelioma treatment.

Snehal Smart, M.D.

Snehal Smart, M.D.

Snehal Smart is the Pleural Mesothelioma Center’s in-house medical doctor, serving as both an experienced Patient Advocate and an expert medical writer for the website. When she is not providing one-on-one assistance to patients, Dr. Snehal stays current on the latest medical research, reading peer-reviewed studies and interviewing oncologists to learn about advancements in diagnostic tools and cancer treatments.

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Joanne Getsy
Last Modified February 4, 2019

8 Cited Article Sources

  1. Nicholson, B.D. et al. (2018, April 9). Weight loss as a predictor of cancer in primary care: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retreieved from
  2. Gannavarapu, B.S. (2018). Prevalence and Survival Impact of Pretreatment Cancer-Associated Weight Loss: A Tool for Guiding Early Palliative Care. Retrieved from
  3. Dogan, M. et al. (2014). The clinicopathological characteristics with long-term outcomes in malignant mesothelioma. Retrieved from
  4. Gangadharan, A. (2017). Protein calorie malnutrition, nutritional intervention and personalized cancer care. Retrieved from[]=15103&path[]=48280
  5. Loh, K.W. et al. (2012). Unintentional weight loss is the most important indicator of malnutrition among surgical cancer patients. Neth J Med, 70, 3656-9
  6. Takamori, S. et al. (2017). The Controlling Nutritional Status Score Is a Significant Independent Predictor of Poor Prognosis in Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved from
  7. Shoji, F. et al. (2017). The Preoperative Controlling Nutritional Status Score Predicts Survival After Curative Surgery in Patients with Pathological Stage I Non-small Cell Lung Cancer. Retrieved from
  8. Yao, Z.H. et al. (2013). Prognostic nutritional index predicts outcomes of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved from

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