How To Manage Blood Sugars During Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may make controlling blood sugar more challenging. How to better manage diabetes during chemotherapy is explained in this article.

Controlling blood sugar levels throughout chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can be a challenging balancing act. However, keeping strict control is essential for your overall health as a diabetic and for the healing process after cancer.

It is not uncommon for persons to have diabetes and cancer simultaneously; between 8% and 18% of cancer patients also have diabetes.

This page will describe the relationship between blood sugar levels and chemotherapy, as well as strategies for improving diabetes management during treatment.

How does chemotherapy affect your blood sugar?

Numerous factors, including blood sugar levels, might be impacted by chemotherapy.

Blood sugar levels may increase as a result of certain chemotherapy medications, including asparaginase (Elspar), 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy, platinum-based chemotherapy, such as cisplatin (Platinol), and busulfan (Busulfex, Myleran).

To lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy, steroids may also be administered. Hyperglycemia is a common side effect of steroids. Glucocorticoids and corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone (all of these steroids have many brand names), are often given steroids.

Between 10% and 30% of patients receiving chemotherapy have acute hyperglycemia. Long-term hyperglycemia is also frequent, particularly in patients receiving treatment for hematologic malignancies with whole-body radiation and L-asparaginase-based regimens.

However, a lot of people may have nausea from chemotherapy, which makes them hardly or not at all hungry for routine meals and snacks.

Low blood sugar can result from missing meals due to sickness, particularly if the patient is insulin-dependent and their medication isn't adjusted to accommodate their food intake.

What helps lower blood sugar during chemo for cancer?

The course of treatment for hyperglycemia during chemotherapy will be determined by the degree of your elevated blood sugar and the presence or absence of diabetes. Variability in blood sugar levels will also be taken into account during management.

Each will have a different course of treatment. However, the most effective method for lowering blood sugar levels during chemotherapy is typically to use exogenous insulin.

Due to the delayed blood sugar surge (typically occurring eight hours after the dose), intermediate-acting insulin is advised for patients using once-daily corticosteroids, such as prednisolone.

However, long-acting insulin may be necessary when using longer-acting glucocorticoids, such as dexamethasone, to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. Steroids taken continuously or in many doses would be subject to the same advice.

The best treatment for chemotherapy medications that induce abrupt rises in blood sugar is fast-acting insulin. It is possible to treat minor hyperglycemia (spikes <200 milligrams per deciliter) with oral diabetic medicines.

Additionally, maintaining hydration and engaging in moderate exercise, such as jogging or walking, can help reduce persistently high blood sugar levels during treatment for chronic insulin resistance.

What happens if you have hypoglycemia during chemo?

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can occur during chemotherapy, particularly if you are insulin-dependent.

Chemotherapy can cause a lot of changes in your life and routine. It often results in nausea, vomiting, and changes in appetite. It can also cause weight loss and have an impact on your sleep and energy levels. Food flavour may also be altered by chemotherapy.

Low blood sugar levels might arise from wanting to skip meals and possibly not feeling hungry at all.

The best course of action is to locate a fast-acting glucose source that you can consume even when you're queasy, like juice, gel, or glucose pills.

If you're undergoing chemotherapy or are in the hospital and your blood sugar is low, you might be able to get intravenous (IV) dextrose to raise it without having to eat.

Consult your physician about modifying your basal and bolus insulin settings during chemotherapy, particularly if you take insulin and frequently have low blood sugar levels.

Is there a diabetes and chemotherapy diet?

You don't have to adhere to any particular diet if you have diabetes and cancer. To ensure that you can absorb as many nutrients as possible, it is always preferable to concentrate on eating full, unprocessed meals.

To consume as many calories as you can when you eat, if you don't feel like you're hungry, concentrate on eating complete foods that are high in calories, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, fruits, coconut, and peanut butter. Foods with a low glycemic index (GI), which is associated with foods high in nutrients, can also be something you want to think about.

Lastly, you might look for an oncology dietician, a medical specialist with specialised training in helping cancer patients create the healthiest, most balanced meal plans possible for their needs.

They can collaborate with you to customise a meal plan that takes into account your cancer and diabetes diagnoses as well as the eating difficulties that come with chemotherapy.


It's not simple to manage diabetes and cancer, and it might get increasingly harder when undergoing chemotherapy.

Insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar are side effects of some chemotherapy medications, as well as the steroids that are frequently administered concurrently. The best ways to address high blood sugar are to stay hydrated, engage in light physical activity, and take insulin, or an oral diabetic medicine.

Low blood sugar levels can also result from side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. During chemotherapy, you can control low blood sugar by finding a palatable supply of glucose or even by requesting an IV dextrose flow.

You can make a food plan that will support your diabetes and cancer health objectives by working with an oncology nutritionist.


Is 200 blood sugar normal after eating?

200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L ) or higher after two hours suggests diabetes.

What foods are good for diabetic chemo patients?

Avocado, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, beans, or peas

Can lemon water reduce blood sugar?

Lemon water may not directly impact your blood sugar levels and cause it to come down.

What is the fastest way to bring down blood sugar?

Take fast-acting insulin

What is the quickest way to reduce blood sugar?

Take Insulin

Can drinking a lot of water lower your blood sugar?

According to one study, individuals who consume more water are less likely to experience elevated blood sugar levels.

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