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Diarrhea in Mesothelioma Patients

Chemotherapy can cause diarrhea if the medicine affects the cells lining the intestine. If you have diarrhea that continues for more than 24 hours, or if you have pain and cramping along with the diarrhea, call your doctor. In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe a medicine to control the diarrhea. If diarrhea persists, you may need intravenous (IV) fluids to replace the water and nutrients you have lost. Do not take any over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea without asking your doctor.

Ways to fight diarrhea
  • Drink plenty of fluids. This will help replace those you have lost through diarrhea. (More on nutrition for mesothelioma patients) Mild, clear liquids, such as water, clear broth, sports drinks, or ginger ale, are best. If these drinks make you more thirsty or nauseous, try diluting them with water. Drink slowly and make sure drinks are at room temperature.
  • Ask your doctor if you should try a clear liquid diet to give your bowels time to rest. A clear liquid diet does not provide all the nutrients you need, so do not follow one for more than 3 to 5 days.
  • Eat small amounts of food throughout the day instead of three large meals. Eat low-fiber foods.
  • Avoid high-fiber foods, which can lead to diarrhea and cramping. High-fiber foods include whole grain breads and cereals, raw vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, popcorn, and fresh and dried fruit.
  • Avoid hot or very cold liquids. Avoid coffee, tea with caffeine, alcohol, and sweets. Stay away from fried, greasy, or highly spiced foods, too. Avoid milk and milk products, including ice cream.


Some cancer medicine, pain medicine, and other medicines can cause constipation. There is a quite a bit of variation in how different people react to drugs; some people are more prone to constipation than others. Inactivity and not walking also leads to constipation, and so do diet lacking in fluid or fiber. If you have not had a bowel movement for more than a day or two, call your doctor, who may suggest taking a laxative or stool softener. Do not take these measures without checking with your doctor, especially if your white blood cell count or platelets are low.

What can I do about constipation?
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen the bowels. If you do not have mouth sores, try warm and hot fluids.
  • Check with your doctor to see if you can increase the fiber in your diet (there are certain kinds of cancer and certain side effects you may have for which a high-fiber diet is not recommended). High fiber foods include bran, whole-wheat breads and cereals, raw or cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, and popcorn.
  • Exercise. Talk to your doctor about the amount and type of exercise that is right for you.

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