Managing side effects of stomach cancer
Stomach cancer and its treatment can cause many side effects. Some of these side effects are permanent and may change what you can eat, and how you digest foods and absorb essential nutrients. Here we look at the common side effects and how to manage them.
Learn more about:
- How treatment will affect eating
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Swallowing difficulties
- Dumping syndrome
- Anaemia and osteoporosis
During and after treatment, you need to eat and drink enough to get the nutrition you need, maintain your weight and avoid dehydration.
If you are eating less than usual – it is often recommended that you have high energy and high protein foods and relax healthy eating guidelines.
If you are unable to eat and drink enough to meet your nutritional needs – you may need a feeding tube during or after treatment. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian with experience in cancer care, who can give you more information.
After treatment, some foods may be uncomfortable to eat and may cause digestive problems. You will need to try different foods and change your eating habits, such as eating smaller meals more often throughout the day.
You may find it hard to accept the differences in how and what you can eat. It’s natural to feel self-conscious or worry about eating in public or with friends. It may help to let your family and friends know how you feel, or to speak with a counsellor or someone who has been through a similar experience. They may be able to give you advice on how to adjust. It may take time and support to adapt to your new way of eating.
For more on this, see Nutrition and cancer.
Podcast: Appetite Loss and Nausea
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Peter Blyth, Consumer; Jeff Bull, Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Nurse Consultant, Cancer Services, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; Mick Daws, Consumer; Dr Steven Leibman, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Prof Michael Michael, Medical Oncologist, Lower and Upper Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, and Co-Chair Neuroendocrine Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian: Upper Gastrointestinal, Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Letchemi Valautha, Consumer; Lesley Woods, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.