6 Healthy Lifestyle Tips During Kidney Cancer Treatment

  • portrait of smiling senior African American man wearing hat
    Feel your best during treatment.
    When you’re receiving kidney cancer treatment, it’s normal to want to know exactly what you can do to keep the cancer from growing or, if you’re in remission, to prevent it from coming back. Though researchers are still studying what can help prevent or slow down cancer, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make now that will have a positive impact on your health and help you feel better while you’re going through treatment.

  • senior man drinking from glass of water
    1. Control the nausea.
    Many people with kidney cancer have problems with nausea from treatment or from the cancer itself. But many also have success keeping nausea at bay with strategies like eating smaller meals or drinking smaller amounts of fluids more often, drinking salty or carbonated fluids, or using relaxation exercises. If these don’t work for you, talk to your doctor about anti-nausea medicines or other strategies that may help. When nausea kicks in, try not to worry about your diet. Focus on eating what you can, when you can.

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    2. Manage your pain.
    Pain is different for everyone with kidney cancer, but there are many medications that can help you control pain, along with relaxation techniques, such as meditation. Be honest with your doctor and health care team about your everyday goals and quality of life, and how pain may be getting in the way of your day-to-day. If your pain increases during treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean your cancer is getting worse. Your medication may need to be adjusted.

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    3. Fight fatigue.
    If you’re often fighting fatigue, you’re not alone. Extreme fatigue is common for people with kidney cancer, and it may feel like a constant reminder of the disease. You may also worry it’s a sign the cancer is getting worse. But more likely, it’s a side effect of your treatment or the disease itself. Try to pace and prioritize your activities and organize your home in such a way that helps limit your physical demands. Also, ask friends and family to pitch in where they can — running errands, making meals — so you can save your energy for the activities that are most important to you.

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    4. Adjust your diet.
    Though the relationship between diet and kidney cancer is unclear, we do know that a healthy, well-balanced diet helps people with kidney cancer maintain strength, prevent infection and regenerate normal tissue. Most nutritionists recommend a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Maintaining calories is also important during cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, which often affect your appetite. Try finding new recipes or new ways to prepare fruits and vegetables that are more appealing to you. But don’t deny yourself the occasional sweet treat or alcoholic drink, if your doctor approves.

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    5. Maintain intimacy with your partner.
    For many people with cancer, it can be hard to cope with the physical changes that affect their sexuality and relationships. When you’re feeling sick or have low energy, sex may be the last thing on your mind. It’s important you talk to your partner so he or she understands what you’re going through. If you aren’t able to have sex, there are other ways to maintain intimacy, such as hugging, kissing and touching one another. It may take some time to adjust to these changes and a new way of being intimate, so be patient with yourself. Talk to your doctor about counseling if you and/or your partner need someone to help you work through these changes.

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    6. Find ways to unwind.
    Feeling stressed, anxious or worried is understandable when kidney cancer is a part of your life. But it can help to find ways to unwind and take time for yourself while you’re going through treatment. Do things you enjoy that relax or re-charge you, whether it’s reading, painting or chatting with a good friend. Keep a journal to process your feelings, and talk them over with a counselor or psychologist if you’re going through a rough time. Also, be sure to eat healthy and get some exercise when you’re feeling up to it, and get plenty of sleep so you feel rested each day.

Lifestyle for Kidney Cancer | Kidney Cancer Treatment

About The Author

Susan Fishman, NCC, CRC is a veteran freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in health education, and a knack for turning complex medical jargon into something the average reader can understand. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post and HuffPost, and on numerous other national health, wellness and parenting sites. She is also a National Certified Counselor and Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor, adding mental health and wellness to her area of expertise.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 8
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.