The responsibility rests with patients to contact CANSA for assistance. Read more...

Coping with Diarrhoea -Top Dietary Tips for Cancer Patients

Diarrhoea is the passing of loose stools (not formed and watery) frequently (more than three times a day). The food moves through the gut too quickly and does not get a chance to be digested or absorbed.

When you are undergoing cancer treatment, side effects such as vomiting or diarhoea can lead to dehydration. Infections, high fever, bleeding or merely not drinking enough fluids also can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is a serious condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated.

In the case of acute diarrhoea, which is usually defined as lasting less than two weeks, the symptoms come on suddenly but usually clear up within 5–10 days. Chronic diarrhoea is diarrhoea that lasts for more than four weeks.

Should you suspect that you have chronic diarrhoea, consult your healthcare professional. Medication might be necessary but the dietary advice stays the same.

Other factors that can lead to diarrhoea, for example, food sensitivity, depression, anxiety, infection, too much sugar and lactose intolerance.


The main ways in which acute diarrhoea is treated are fluid and electrolyte replacement (rehydration), dietary modifications and, when necessary, drug therapy. View cost-effective, nutritious recipes here…


In most cases of acute diarrhoea, fluid and electrolyte replacement is the most important form of therapy.

If you are not dehydrated, soft drinks, fruit juice, broth, soup and salted crackers should be adequate. If you have excessive fluid loss and dehydration, you may need more aggressive measures such as intravenous fluids or oral rehydration therapy with isotonic electrolyte solutions. Oral rehydration therapy is less expensive, often just as effective and more practical than intravenous fluids.

Home-made Rehydration Solution

An equally effective home-made rehydration solution is ½ teaspoon salt and 8 teaspoons sugar diluted in 1 litre boiled, cooled water. Try to drink 125–250 ml after each loose stool.


Do you have a question?
Book a counselling session

CANSA Tele Counselling

 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
 071 867 3530 isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi (text only)


  Find Your Care Centre

About Us | Get in Touch

1931 - 2021. 90 Year Anniversary

Sign up to receive news and updates: