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Mental Health

A kidney cancer diagnosis can affect mental health and emotional well-being for patients but also for caregivers, clinicians, and anyone impacted by it. Many feelings can accompany a kidney cancer diagnosis, which may contribute to anxiety or depression or they may exacerbate an existing mental health condition.

Stress, both physical and mental, may also alter some things in the body like immune function, which could affect how well someone responds to treatment.

Let your health care team know about your feelings and concerns so they can refer you to mental health providers or counselors. Supportive emotional and mental health care can be a great help for anyone struggling to cope with kidney cancer.

Diet and Nutrition

A healthy diet and good nutrition are essential for kidney cancer patients to maintain strength, prevent body tissues from breaking down, prevent infection, and promote tissue regeneration, especially while undergoing therapy.

There is limited evidence on what kinds of diets or foods may prevent cancer, prevent cancer progression or recurrence, or help treatments work better. There is significant evidence to suggest a causal relationship between obesity and cancer and excessive sugar consumption and cancer. Some studies do suggest that a high-protein diet may be linked to kidney cancer and kidney disease. You should discuss any changes or restrictions to your diet with your doctor.

Dietary and nutrition needs may change over the course of kidney cancer depending on stage, type of treatment, response, or other factors. A nutritionist or dietician trained in cancer care may be able to help advise patients how to best support optimal health through diet.

Learn more about Ina®, a personalized, evidence-based nutrition support available on demand by text.

Physical Activity

Exercise and physical activity can have a variety of benefits for kidney cancer patients, from helping regain muscle tone following surgery to reducing and managing stress to promoting good cardiovascular health. Consult your cancer center for programs that address physical activity and cancer.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to a range of treatments and practices that are not typically part of the standard medical care that a general practitioner, oncologist, surgeon, or other type of medical doctor (MD) would provide. CAMs, such as acupuncture, a special diet, or herbal supplements, may be used alongside, to supplement, or instead of standard medical treatments. Participating in CAMs is reasonable but they can influence your treatment and have potentially harmful side effects, so let your health care team know if you are interested.

Integrative medicine refers to an approach that combines medical care with safe and effective CAM practices and may address mind and spirit as well as body.

Research on the effects of CAM therapies is limited but constantly evolving. Since some CAMs may interact with a medical treatment or result in harmful side effects, it is important to consult with your healthcare providers before starting them.