You know you have to eat to survive
Patients with head and neck cancers, including oral cancers, may have difficulties in eating, they may experience fatigue, loss of appetite and weight. Those problems may be a consequence of their cancer or may be related to their treatments for cancer. Up to 80% of patients with head and neck cancers may develop malnutrion. Oncology dieticians are considered a core member of the multidisciplinary team for the care of head and neck cancer patients. Psychological strategies delivered by dieticians were successful in improving the nutritional status in head and neck cancer patients.
According to a recent study, published in the medical journal Supportive Care in Cancer, dieticians can be trained to deliver a health behavior change and help prevent malnutrition during radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. 
The purpose of the study was to explore head and neck cancer patient experiences of a novel dietician delivered health behavior intervention. Nine petients were included following an initial group of 156 patients and dieticians were trained accordingly. The interviews were conducted via telephone.
During the study a number of patients repeorted that the biggest hurdle was finding recipes and foods to eat. The participants indicated that they were aware of the importance of food intake and nutrition and the significance of maintaining weight. Compassion was also valued by patients.
The majority of participants reported that their sessions with the dietician were not only "helpful" but they felt "comfortable" with the dieticians as they were "understanding". Participants felt that an important part of the dietician's role was to be "positive and reasssuring". They felt that the challenges of the treatment experience resulted in a change in how they perceive the meaning of food and help them focus on survival as a key coping strategy. They also expressed that it was important to receive proper information from a caring and empathic dietician to feel adequately supported.
Intervention by oncology dieticians appears to assist patients to link eating with survival and was perceived as being empathically delivered in a supportive context.
 Head and neck cancer patient expereince of a new dietician-delivered health behavior intervention: "you know you have to eat to survive". Mc Carter K et al. Supportive Care in Cancer 2018;26:2167-2175.