How to manage diabetes and cancer treatment

Between 8% and 18% of cancer patients have diabetes, a chronic condition that impacts the ability to regulate blood sugar levels. And, for many patients, diabetes management takes a backseat to cancer treatment. But managing your blood sugar levels can help your overall health. We spoke with Erma Levy, a research dietitian at MD Anderson, about what cancer patients with diabetes should know. Can cancer treatment affect blood sugar levels? Radiation therapy, steroids and some types of chemotherapy may impact your blood sugar levels. And uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to dehydration, which is a frequent side effect of chemotherapy.  Taking extra care to manage your blood sugar levels can help you stay hydrated and feel better during treatment. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels also can have a negative impact on your other organs. Monitoring your blood sugar levels can help keep them healthy and strong during cancer treatment.  What can cancer patients with diabetes do to improve their health? If you have Type II diabetes or pre-diabetes (a high risk for developing diabetes), try to manage it through your diet. As your diet allows, focus on a healthy eating plan that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in fat and calories. You can help keep your blood sugar level in a safe range by ensuring there’s a balance of these foods in your diet throughout the day. If you’re finding that it’s difficult to eat healthy foods, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with a dietitian to find ways to get these foods into your diet. If you’re an MD Anderson patient, your doctor...