Diarrhea during cancer treatment

Loose watery stools can be caused by some chemotherapy drugs and cancer medicines. Radiation to the abdomen and pelvis can also cause diarrhea.

Tips to prevent diarrhea during cancer treatment

  • Increase soluble fiber intake such as unsweetened applesauce, oatmeal.
  • Avoid raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink more fluids than usual to replace what is lost through the loose stools.
  • Drink liquids at room temperature.
  • Drink fluids between meals rather than with meals.
  • Eat small, frequent meals to avoid becoming over full.
  • Avoid gas-forming foods.
  • Limit milk and milk products to two cups per day.
  • Eat and drink high-sodium fluids and foods, such as bouillon and crackers.
  • Eat and drink high-potassium foods and fluids, such as fruit juice, potatoes, and bananas.
  • Ask the nurse or doctor about medicine to help control loose stools.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of sweetened beverages.
  • Avoid greasy, fried, or very rich foods.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid large amounts of sugar-free candy and gum that contains sorbitol.
Last reviewed: 
April 2018

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