Cancer treatments and medicines can cause your child’s bowels to move much more often and become very loose (diarrhea). Uncontrolled diarrhea can lead to weight loss, fluid loss (dehydration), poor appetite, and weakness. If your child has diarrhea, try these tips:

  • Avoid high-fiber foods, like nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, peas, dried fruits, and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid high-fat foods, like fried and greasy foods.
  • Avoid gassy foods, fizzy drinks, and chewing gum.
  • Limit milk or milk products to 2 cups a day. Yogurt and buttermilk are OK.
  • Limit apple juice and drinks that contain caffeine.
  • Be sure to have your child sip fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  • If OK with the doctor, have your child drink and eat high-sodium foods, such as broths, soups, sports drinks, crackers, and pretzels.
  • If OK with the doctor, have your child drink and eat high-potassium foods, such as fruit juices and nectars, sports drinks, potatoes with the skin, and bananas.
  • Increase soluble fiber foods such as applesauce, bananas, canned peaches and pears, oatmeal, and white rice.
  • Do not give sugar-free gum, or offer candies and desserts made with sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol. (These can make diarrhea worse.)

Call the doctor if diarrhea continues or increases, or if your child’s stools have an unusual odor or color. Once the diarrhea has stopped, talk to your health care team about how to slowly add foods with fiber to your child’s diet.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: June 30, 2014

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