For patients receiving radiation therapy to the pelvic area.
Radiation therapy to the pelvic region or to bones in the lower back/hip area can result in more frequent, loose stools. This condition can also progress to diarrhea (4+ stools daily) as your radiation therapy continues. If you are going to have a change in bowel habit, it usually does not occur until sometime after the first week of treatment. It is important to note, however, that while most do, some people receiving radiation treatment do not experience a change in their bowel habits. The following suggestions can be beneficial in managing this potential side effect of radiation therapy to the pelvic region.
Attention prostate cancer survivors: most prostate cancer survivors do not have significant problems with bowel irritation because of the use of localized radiation fields; however, it is always a prudent idea to abide by some of the preventive nutritional measures to increase comfort and decrease the likelihood of a problem.
The side effect of more frequent, loose stools starts gradually, so you should be aware of any change in bowel habits, and report the change to your dietitian, nurse or doctor. The following are some nutrition suggestions to start at the beginning of treatment in an effort to minimize the possible effects of radiation to the bowel.
Commercially prepared liquids** such as those made by Ross Labs (Enlive), Novartis (Boost Breeze/Resource Fruit Drink) and Carnation Instant Breakfast (added to low-fat Lactaid missing trademark milk) can be very effective and easy ways to get extra nutrition.
* Please do not disregard previously defined dietary restrictions for heart disease, diabetes, or any other condition unless discussed with your dietitian, nurse, or doctor.
**Food and beverages that contain more sugar or natural sweetener should be limited and/or diluted.