Cancer patients may experience obstructions and blockages prior to, and/or following surgery. Obstructions may affect patients experiencing gastrointestinal disorders/diseases for a variety of reasons; among them: tumors, adhesions, and inappropriate dietary choices. Due to the challenges caused by obstructions, patients should consult with their own physician specialist and/or a registered dietitian to review their specific needs. Here is a list of general guidelines.
Symptoms of obstructions:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Nausea and/or lack of appetite
- Vomiting, including projectile vomiting
- Bloating, with a hard belly
- Inability to have a bowel movement
Who is prone to obstructions?
- Patients who are still in the first few weeks of recovery after a bowel resection
- Patients affected by scar tissue (adhesions), and/or tumors
- Patients who are bedridden and/or who require certain medications
Physical contributors to obstructions:
- Scar tissue (adhesions)
- Lack of physical exercise
- Medication, especially narcotics prescribed for pain, and some chemotherapies
Dietary contributors to obstructions: Those prone to obstructions should approach fiber dense foods with caution, or avoid altogether:
- Nuts and snacks, such as popcorn, granola bars, etc,
- Fibrous fruits or fruits with skins and/or seeds, i.e. grapes, raisins, citrus membranes, pineapple, etc.,
- Fibrous vegetables, raw or undercooked vegetables, i.e. artichokes, beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, lettuces, peas, etc.
- Other foods that may move more slowly through the digestive system including some meat products: beef, poultry, etc.
To avoid obstructions caused by diet:
- Chew foods thoroughly
- Use a commercial stool softener*
- Drink adequate amounts of water, six to eight 8 ounce glasses per day
- Add a fiber supplement to your diet*
- Increase physical exercise*
*Consult with your physician specialist and/or a registered dietitian to review your specific needs.