After a few visits to dieticians as an outpatient at a public hospital, I have observed that the advice given is very generalised. It is based on a balanced diet and general healthy eating tips that cater to patients of any age, regardless of the illness they are recovering from.
Associate Professor Koo Wen Hsin from the National Cancer Centre Singapore has noted that cancer patients lose not fat, but lean muscle, making them feel very weak and fatigued ("Healthy eating tips for cancer patients"; May 15).
With a larger population projected, and a higher incidence of cancer, Singapore should nurture more advanced oncology dieticians, and make the field one of the specialities in public hospital oncology wards.
Currently, our dieticians and nutritionists study at overseas universities. Our education and health ministries could consider incorporating a new branch of study on nutritional science and diets at the tertiary level. This can focus on the study and research of oncology diets.
Our local dieticians can also undergo professional upgrading to gear them towards the unique speciality of oncology diets for cancer patients.
Ada Chan Siew Foen (Ms)