Some types of cancer, as well as some cancer therapies and medications, can significantly affect your bowel functions and negatively impact your quality of life. Diarrhea, constipation and other bowel-related side effects can be mitigated with appropriate bowel management.
Regular bowel movements rid the body of waste, making room for new food and fluids to move through the GI tract and supply the body with nutrients.
It is especially important to have regular bowel movements if you are on chemotherapy. Hard, dry stools can cause bleeding if your blood counts drop below normal.
Healthy Bowel Habits
- Drink at least 2 quarts (eight, 8-ounce glasses) of fluid per day. Half of the fluids you take in each day should be non-caffeinated.
- Take medicine as directed. Follow your health care provider’s advice on how to prevent constipation when taking certain medicine.
- Include foods in your diet that help you have a bowel movement, such as prunes, prune juice or high-fiber cereal.
- Daily physical activity helps keep the GI tract active. Talk with your doctor about how much physical activity is best for you.
- Go to the bathroom right away when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Don’t wait.
- Timing of bowel movements is important. Try to have a bowel movement after the same meal every day. Drinking a hot liquid after that meal can help bring on a bowel movement by increasing the “push down” effect on stool in your GI tract.