Nutrition and Exercise During Breast Cancer Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on December 15, 2021
2 min read

No matter which type of breast cancer treatment you're getting, it's important to take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough rest, and, if possible, exercising.

Women with breast cancer who exercise have an improved outcome compared to those who do not. In addition, women with breast cancer who exercised during treatment felt like they had more energy and did not gain as much weight as patients who didn't exercise. Swimming, movement and dance, and other programs can offer a physical and emotional boost.

Exercise for breast cancer survivors usually includes physical therapy to improve strength and range of motion in the arm(s) and moderate aerobic exercise (like walking) for about 30 minutes, three or more times a week. Ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise physiologist or program for people with cancer.

A balanced, healthy diet can provide the nutrients and energy your body needs to heal after breast cancer. Good nutrition also helps you stay strong and feel your best. Nutritional guidelines for breast cancer patients may be different than the recommendations you are used to. Ask your health care provider for nutrition suggestions. If needed, a dietitian or nutritionist can provide an eating plan customized for your needs.

Generally, diets for breast cancer patients are higher in protein, which provides the building blocks your body needs. They also may be higher in calories. Your treatment diet may be modified if you are gaining weight during treatment, which sometimes happens with breast cancer patients.

Some anticancer drugs and other drugs, such as pain medications, may cause constipation. This problem also can occur if your diet lacks enough fluid or fiber, or if you've been in bed for a long time. Your health care provider may suggest you add more fiber to your diet if you have this problem.