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Stomach Cancer

  • Posted: 10/15/2009

Nutrition

Nutrition is an important part of your treatment for stomach cancer. You need the right amount of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain your strength and to heal.

However, when you have stomach cancer, it may be difficult to eat. You may be uncomfortable or tired, and you may not feel like eating. You also may have nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea from cancer treatment or pain medicine.

Tell your health care team if you're losing weight or having any problems digesting your food. A dietitian can help you choose the foods and nutrition products that will meet your needs. Some people with stomach cancer are helped by receiving nutrition by IV (intravenous). A temporary feeding tube is rarely needed.

You may want to read the NCI booklet Eating Hints. It contains many useful ideas and recipes.

Nutrition after Stomach Surgery

A registered dietitian can help you plan a diet that will meet your nutrition needs. A plan that describes the type and amount of food to eat after surgery can help you prevent weight loss and discomfort with eating.

After stomach surgery, you may need to take daily supplements of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, calcium, and iron. You may also need vitamin B12 shots.

Some people have problems eating and drinking after stomach surgery. Liquids may pass into the small intestine too fast, which causes dumping syndrome. The symptoms are cramps, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and dizziness. To prevent these symptoms, it may help to make the following changes:

  • Plan to have smaller, more frequent meals (some doctors suggest 6 meals per day)
  • Drink liquids before or after meals
  • Cut down on very sweet foods and drinks (such as cookies, candy, soda, and juices)
  • Ask your health care team if they can suggest medicine to control the symptoms

You may want to ask a dietitian these questions about nutrition:

  • What foods are best soon after surgery?
  • How can I avoid dumping syndrome?
  • Are there foods or drinks that I should avoid?