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Diet and exercise after acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

Find out about diet and exercise after treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Lifestyle after AML treatment

Many people ask us about what they should eat and what exercise they can do after they have had treatment. Exactly what you can do varies. It depends on the treatment you have had, and how fit you were before your leukaemia.

Diet and AML

Diet plays an important part in coping with cancer and its treatment. A good, well balanced diet can help you feel stronger, have more energy, and recover more quickly.

After treatment, most people can eat whatever they want. While you were having treatment, your weight may have changed. You might have lost weight. This may be because of the side effects of your treatment including:

  • loss of appetite
  • taste changes
  • sickness
  • a sore mouth
  • diarrhoea

If you still find it difficult to eat, you can try high calorie and high protein drinks. You may have had these drinks during treatment. Once your treatment has finished though, you should begin to feel better and be able to eat a normal diet. This can take a while after intensive treatment.

Healthier options

When they are diagnosed with cancer, many people look at their diet and make changes, deciding to choose healthier options. For example:

  • eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • eating less fat and salt
  • drinking alcohol within the guidelines – the maximum is 2 units a day

All of these things help you to recover and aim to keep you healthy.

Exercise and AML

Exercise is a great way to help you feel better, both physically and emotionally. But it is important not to overdo it. How much you can do depends on how fit you are and how you feel. You will probably have days when you don’t have so much energy. Listen to your body and build up slowly.

Gentle walking is suitable for most people to start with. Once your white blood count is back to normal and you don’t have a central line any more you can go swimming. Research has shown that taking regular exercise can help to reduce tiredness (fatigue) after treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure about how much you can do.

Last reviewed: 
31 Aug 2016
  • A systematic review on the use of exercise interventions for individuals with myeloid leukemia.
    J Smith-Turchyn and J Richardson
    Supportive Care in Cancer, August 2015; 23(8), 2435-2446

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