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Cancer Treatment Centers of America


Constipation may be caused by cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy), pain medication, inactivity and diet. Constipation is the passage of irregular, infrequent or hard stool.

Everyone has a pattern of elimination. Be aware of what is normal for you. If you see blood in your stool, notify your doctor as soon as possible.

Tips for managing or preventing constipation

  • Drink 8-10 cups of clear liquid a day (e.g., water, prune juice, warm juices, non-caffeinated teas, soup, popsicles).
  • Slowly add high-fiber foods to your diet (e.g., whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables with skins/peels, nuts, dried beans, peas, raisins, dates and prunes). Always increase fluid when increasing fiber.
  • Avoid eating large amounts of cheese, cheese products or bananas (which can be constipating).
  • Eat a breakfast that includes a hot drink and foods high in insoluble fiber (e.g., bran cereals).
  • Try drinking a warm liquid (e.g., soup, tea) 30 minutes before your normal time for a bowel movement.
  • Try drinking ½ cup of warm prune juice.
  • Try eating at the same times each day to help regulate your bowel movements.
  • If gas becomes a problem, limit drinks and foods that cause gas (e.g., carbonated beverages, cruciferous vegetables, chewing gum). Avoid drinking with a straw.
  • If using an enteral formula, as in the case of a feeding tube, consider switching to a formula with fiber.
  • Ask your doctor about medications to relieve constipation. Some over-the-counter medicines include Senekot, Colace, Metamucil and Benefiber.
  • If you feel up to it, and if your doctor permits, try incorporating mild exercise and physical activity into your daily routine.

NOTE: This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to making decisions about your treatment.