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Patient Education

Constipation During Cancer Treatment

Causes of constipation during cancer treatment can include chemotherapy, pain and other symptom management medications, and lack of activity, fiber and fluids.

To address constipation, drink more liquids such as water, prune juice and hot teas with lemon.

Other suggestions include:

  • Focus on consuming significant amounts of liquids at once, especially if regular consumption of liquids is challenging or unpleasant for you.
  • Drink prune juice followed by 8 ounces of warm to hot water.
  • Increase fiber with beans, legumes, bran cereals, oatmeal, apples, pears, milled flaxseed and chia seeds.
  • Add canned coconut milk to soups or smoothies.
  • Increase physical activity – take a walk or other moderate exercise every day.
  • Consider a fiber supplement or over-the-counter medications such as stool softeners or laxatives if necessary; always consult your health practitioner before taking medications and remember to drink plenty of fluids with medications and supplements.

Try the following recipe, which serves as a natural food laxative:

Combine all of these ingredients and store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to seven days:

  • 1 ¼ cups plain, wheat bran flakes
  • 1 cup prune juice
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses or honey
  • 2-3 dashes of cinnamon

Take 2 tablespoons of this recipe in the evening. The amount may be increased to 3 or 4 tablespoons per day if needed.