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Diet and neutropenia

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

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By Lindsay Snell

Neutropenia occurs when the white blood cells that help to fight infection (neutrophils) are low. Both cancer and its treatment can cause neutropenia and increases a person’s risk of infection. Dietary advice for neutropenia varies vastly as evidence for using a neutropenic diet is limited.

This year, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) produced a policy statement of best practice with the aim of standardising advice. It is important to seek guidance from a dietitian and follow local recommendations.

Good food hygiene and preparation is important and below are some basic concepts to follow.

Tips for staying safe:


If severely neutropenic, additionally:

Treatment side effects can occasionally disrupt eating. Whilst undergoing treatment you should not aim to lose weight. If you have a sore mouth; avoid spicy, very hot, cold or acidic food and drinks. Opt for a softer diet and drink plenty of fluids. If you have taste changes; use plastic cutlery, add flavour with herbs and spices (cooked) and try foods that you may not usually eat.

Further advice is available from your dietitian. For more advice on looking after yourself, visit our website:

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