Hydration image

Hydration is crucial during cancer treatment

Written by Alison Hammond, a dietetic intern at UK Markey Cancer Center.

Water is an extremely important nutrient for many reasons, which is unsurprising since it makes up over 60 percent of the human body. Water plays a major role in many bodily processes, such as controlling heart rate and blood pressure, regulating body temperature and waste disposal. 

Staying hydrated during cancer treatment is critically important as many treatments can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which puts patients at risk for dehydration. Furthermore, many patients undergoing cancer treatment experience taste changes, which may cause a decrease in water consumption.

When you don’t drink as much water as you need, dehydration occurs. Dehydration can also occur due to issues such as excessive sweating, fever, diarrhea, vomiting and use of some medications like diuretics or water pills.

When dehydration occurs, your body cannot function properly and issues like tiredness (fatigue), constipation, dizziness, headache, and nausea can emerge. Some moderate to severe signs of dehydration include dark yellow urine, decreased sweat production, confusion and rapid heartbeat.

Don’t let your body tell you it’s thirsty, at this point you’re already behind. Prevention is the best way to avoid dehydration, and the best way to do that is to keep a water bottle nearby and sip throughout the day. It’s recommended that you consume at least 8-10 cups of water per day. 

General Tips for Staying Hydrated:

  • Keep a water bottle at your side and take small sips throughout the day
  • Start drinking water as soon as you wake up and continue throughout the day
  • Develop a schedule and set goals for when to refill your water bottle

To help encourage hydration, there are many ways to enhance or change the flavor of plain water with things like fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. While lemon water is common, it may not be a great option for someone with mouth sores. Check out some spa water ideas below for alternative options and try experimenting with things you enjoy!


  1. Fill pitcher with ice water
  2. Add fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs
  3. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour
  4. Keep for 2-3 days

Combination Ideas:

  • Cucumber + Watermelon + Mint
  • Peach + Basil
  • Strawberry + Cucumber + Basil
  • Jalapeno + Watermelon
  • Apple + Ginger


  • Berries: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries
  • Melons: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
  • Stone Fruit: peaches, mangos, mangoes
  • Citrus: lemon, lime, mandarin oranges, oranges, grapefruit


  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers: jalapeno, bell peppers


  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Ginger

For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at UK Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian. 

Featured Service Lines

Markey Cancer Center
Stay informed of the latest health stories by email.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.