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2016 Press Releases

New cookbook to help cancer patients

23 May 2016
Photo L-R:Fiona Dwyer, UCC; Jane Healy, Culinary Arts Lecturer, CIT; Dr Aoife Ryan, Dietitian and Lecturer, Nutritional Sciences, UCC and Dr Derek Power, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Mercy and Cork University Hospitals

A cookbook for cancer patients experiencing difficulties in chewing or swallowing their food is available free of charge to cancer patients throughout Ireland. 

The book, ‘Eating Well with swallowing difficulties in cancer,’ was launched by University College Cork (UCC) and Breakthrough Cancer Research this week. The recipes contained within the cookbook are simple, nourishing and enjoyable -- more importantly, all of the recipes are easy to chew, swallow and were created specifically for patients who are losing weight. 10,000 copies of the book are available free of charge to cancer patients through their hospitals, and an e-book is also available from

The benefit of these recipes in the day-to-day life of cancer patients undergoing treatment is captured by Bobby Kerr, of Insomina Coffee Chain, Newstalk and Dragon’s Den, who comments that "As someone who lost close to four stone during my cancer treatment I know only too well about this problem. I would have really appreciated a resource such as this cookbook but am delighted that it will now be available to others struggling with this problem. It's a real struggle to find and swallow food with enough nutritional value to enable continued treatment. This book really fills a gap for patients."

Emily Hourican, Journalist and Author, has also added support to the launch of the book and states that “One of the many horrors I experienced during my cancer treatment was trying to eat with no appetite, with nausea, with the very real possibility of vomiting it all up again. Eventually, in order to get a decent amount of calories into me and keep them down, a feeding tube was needed. 

For people suffering from cancer, it is not only the cancer but the collateral damage to your body which also undermines your body and its normal activities such as eating and taking in vital nutrients. The book, produced by UCC and Breakthrough Cancer Research, will really help patients in this area and I am sure that I would have benefited from having a copy myself while going through my treatment.”

Following the award-winning ‘Good Nutrition for Cancer Recovery’ cookbook, the same team of oncologists, dieticians and chefs based in University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), developed a 144 page cookbook with 60 recipes.

Difficulties chewing and swallowing food affect many cancer patients suffering from cancer of the mouth, throat, neck, oesophagus, and stomach and eating frequently becomes an enormous challenge for these patients. Critically, weight loss during a cancer patient’s treatment can not only have a serious negative impact on their quality of life, but directly impacts on their tolerance to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

The team behind the cookbook include Dr Aoife Ryan, Ms Fiona Dwyer and Ms Ruth Elliot from UCC with input from Dr Derek Power, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Cork and Mercy University Hospitals and Ms Anne O’Connor and Ms Jane Healy, lecturers in the Culinary Arts in CIT. Dr Aoife Ryan comments that: “If you’ve ever watched someone you love suffer from cancer then you know that one of the side effects of cancer is weight loss.

This weight loss can be very dramatic and affects up to 80% of cancer patients. Weight loss can be especially problematic in patients with cancers of their head and neck, throat, oesophagus, and stomach where patients have difficulties chewing and swallowing food. 

Scientific studies on cancer patients who lose weight have clearly demonstrated that it negatively impacts their quality of life, reduces their ability to tolerate chemotherapy and those that lose more than 10% of their pre-illness weight unfortunately die much faster than patients who maintain their weight”.

Dr Derek Power comments that: “Maintaining patient weight during cancer treatment is a huge challenge, and eating nourishing meals, and eating often, is important no matter what weight they are. Research has shown that patients who lose a lot of muscle are susceptible to more toxic side-effects to their chemotherapy, and regrettably their treatments often have to be reduced or stopped earlier than planned.  

As a cancer specialist patients ask me daily how they can stop losing weight, and what they can eat when they can’t swallow food easily - unfortunately doctors do not really have any medications that safely stimulate appetite or cause weight gain at present, so it is our hope that this cookbook will assist cancer patients in the challenging task of meeting their nutritional requirements as they battle cancer.” 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF