Dana-Farber Cancer Survivor Stories: Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy Living after a Cancer Diagnosis with Dr. Ann Partridge
Diet and Weight Management
Try to keep a healthy body weight, get regular exercise, and eat healthfully.
If you are overweight or obese, limit consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages.
Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Our nutritionists are available for consultation.
Limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks or less per day.
How to Eat a Healthy Diet as a Cancer Survivor
If you are not exercising regularly, increase your physical activity. Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis.
Aim to do cardiovascular (i.e., aerobic) exercise at least 150 minutes per week. In addition, do strength training (i.e., weighted) exercises on at least 2 days per week. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), exercise has been shown to help improve your physical health as well as your emotional health. Regular exercise or activity can also help decrease feelings of fatigue or tiredness and help with sleep.
Dana-Farber has resources about different exercises and our exercise physiologist is available for consultation to develop an individualized exercise plan. Livestrong through the YMCA provides an excellent exercise program for cancer survivors in communities nationwide.
Different Ways for Cancer Survivors to Get Exercise
For some Hodgkin Lymphoma and related cancer survivors, bone density screening after completing treatment and every 1-2 years after that may be recommended. If you have normal results and no other risk factors, you may need less frequent bone density monitoring.
Additionally, there are a recommended list of criteria to determine if survivors are considered at increased risk for developing osteopenia or osteoporosis in survivorship including:
Current cigarette smoking
Excessive alcohol consumption
History of fractures in adulthood
Increased risk for falls
Long-term exposure to glucocorticoids
Low body weight
Parental history of hip fracture
Regular bone density screening may be recommended for long-term survivors of non-metastatic breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers, because many of the treatments for these cancers can contribute to decreased bone density.
You can read more about bone density screening in the American Society of Clinical Oncology's updated Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of osteopenia/osteoporosis in cancer survivors here.
Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need bone density screening.
Dry mouth and dental problems can occur after radiation treatment in the upper neck area.
Use a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste (such as Prevident).
Get a dental exam and cleaning every 6 months.
Be sure to tell your dentist about your radiation history.
Oral Health Problems that Cancer Survivors Face
All cancer survivors should get a flu (influenza) shot every year.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any specific vaccinations that you may need.