Cancer and Diarrhea - Oncopower caring for your cancer

Cancer and Diarrhea


Diarrhea is a common side-effect of cancer treatment.

It is either caused by chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs.

Other causes in cancer patients can be; radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis, or infections.

Diarrhea can be complicated if not managed properly, Complications include:

  1. Dehydration and loss of minerals.
  2. Fluid and mineral loss if severe, may cause heart or kidney failure.
  3. Malnutrition and weight loss.
  4. Persistent diarrhea may affect treatment course by dose reduction, delaying or discontinuing of treatment.

Management of diarrhea:

  1. Report diarrhea to your health care provider. It is necessary to exclude serious causes for diarrhea as infections.

Some symptoms should also be reported as they are considered warning signs if existed with diarrhea, they indicate infection or dehydration. 

Which are:

  • Fever
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Blood in stool
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Feeling of thirst 
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased amount of urine
  • Stool incontinence
  1. If your diarrhea is less than 6 times a day, with no warning symptoms:

-Your doctor will prescribe a drug called Imodium (or Loperamide) capsules, Start with 2 capsules (4 mg), then take 1 capsule (2mg) every 4 hours or after each loose stools, up to 8 capsules (16 mg) in a day.

-Loperamide should be continued for 12 hours after resolution of diarrhea.

  1. If diarrhea persisted for more than 24 hours or became worse, call your doctor o exclude any complication, the dose of loperamide can be increased starting with 2 capsules (4 mg) then 1 capsule (2 mg) every 2 hours. If you develop any of the symptoms above, tell your doctor immediately.
  2. To cope with diarrhea and prevent its complications:
  • Remember to drink no less than 10 glasses of water each to replace the fluids   lost.
  • If you were taking any stool softeners, don’t forget to stop taking them.

–     Avoid food and drinks that worsens diarrhea as fatty, spicy food, milk products, coffee and alcohol. 

–     Do not avoid eating. Instead you can increase the intake of food that improves diarrhea, as the BRAT diet, which is a diet consisting of Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast, is thought to help in controlling diarrhea. Increase intake of clear fluids as water, broth, and clear juices.

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