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Thread: Irregular bowel movements

  1. #1
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    Irregular bowel movements

    My dad just finished radiotherapy, 10 sessions for his brain metastases. His bowel movements are every 3 days, we gave him a laxative today just so he could feel better. He can eat and not too much was affected with his taste. The problem is sometimes he doesn't want to eat because bowel movements seems like climbing Mt. Everest. Is this permanent? He is currently bedridden and it's very painful for him to move. I only make him eat fruits and veggies that are high in fibre.

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User Kermica's Avatar
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    Hi purpleyam, and welcome to the place no one wants to be but many come to value. I had 40 focused radiation treatments to my groin and abdomen and did not have any significant issue with bowel function as a result. Of course, every patient is different and bowel issues are a noted side effect for treatment of bowel and prostate cancer but you indicated that your father was being treated for brain mets so that wouldn't apply.

    The best suggestion I can make is to consult with your father's cancer treatment team about this. If they are not helpful, I would contact his GP as it is always possible that the problem is being caused by something unrelated to the radiation or other treatments he has had. Good luck with this and let us know how things go.

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    Moderator Top User jpearson's Avatar
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    I too am going thru radiation and chemo for a brain cancer. What you are describing is a side effect. It is definetly not a fun one. Im only a week into treatment and I am already forcing my self to make sure that I am eating. I have tried Benefiber, prune juice and lots of fruit to help, make sure that your dad is drinking lots of water too. Remember, that too much of a good thing is also bad. To much fiber can have the reverse reaction as well. good luck

  4. #4
    Regular User Cindi's Avatar
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    I just finished chemo in May, and about half way through my cycles (6, one every three weeks), I became very constipated, which was a new thing for me. I dreaded eating because BM were so painful. I tried all kinds of laxatives and stool softeners and nothing worked. Then I tried eating potato chips and that has been the only thing that worked. It could have something to do with the kind of oil they now use to fry the potato chips. Anyway, it worked and I'm now finally back to normal as far as my bm are concerned.

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    Thanks everyone! I give him a balanced diet. I kinda suspect it's the maintenance medicine he is taking that makes him feel constipated, I invoked the power of google, and seems like one or two of his medicines are causing that. On a good note, whenever I give a concoction of my power "shake" - berries, banana, orange he poops immediately. Lol. We agreed that every other day, I'll make him drink it, until he slowly has enough energy to have regular bowel movements.

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    He didn't eat dinner tonight. It's the bowel movement again. He seems lethargic today compared to the other days

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    I was told by my gasterentoralogist to take Magnesium Citrate. It is a lliquid sold in bottles at your drug or grocery store and it usually works within 8 hours.

  8. #8
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    I second the water thing ... if he's up to downing about a liter as soon as he gets up, he should be in for a pretty good one within the hour. Psyllium (Metamucil) at night and lots of whole vegetables and grains kept me pretty good through constipation and diarrhea causing treatments. Though I had pretty mild treatment and stayed pretty active. Reminds me of one more thing ... exercise. Even if that means sitting up or turning over a few times a day at this point. Moving as much as possible as soon as possible should help with bms and quality of life in general.

  9. #9
    I agree with Kermica about asking the doctor/medical team about the cause of the constipation and how to handle it. We all hope things will return to "normal," but sometimes we have to come up with a long-term plan for dealing with our "new normal."

    It would be good to learn the cause of it so you can address the cause. My digestive system has slowed down and I may have a partial obstruction. High fiber foods can make that worse. For me the key has been to stick to low fiber foods and lots and lots of nutritious liquids. I feel much, much better without the fiber. It would be good if they could troubleshoot his situation a bit and come up with something that works for him on a routine basis.

    Stool softeners may help -- they're different from laxatives. Again, I would ask the medical team to suggest a regimen for him.
    Diagnosed with stage 2c papillary serous cystadenoma borderline malignancy of the ovary in 2009. Hysterectomy, omenectomy, appendectomy, debulking. 2010 - laparoscopy showed inoperable recurrence, so started chemo. Frontline chemo - carboplatin and cyclophosphamide, six cycles; Avastin - ten cycles; Weekly Topotecan - 4 cycles. Spring 2012 developed pleural nodules. Topotecan plus Avstin - 1year. April, 2014, had surgery to remove Aspergillus infection from right lung.

  10. #10
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    Re asking the med team, agree that that should be the first step. But I can say from personal experience that some docs, nurses and techs are still useless on self-care and quality of life fronts. The only response I have ever gotten about what to do about digestive problems was to take a prescription or find a pill over the counter until I started reading up and seeing a naturopath.

  11. #11
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    Crap, no joke intended.

    Chemo constipation was nothing. Now I think I have some kind of obstruction ... I'd say it has to be due to one dose of morphine I got while under sedation last week, because I also had an MRI and nothing was amiss at the time.

    I hate to go to the ER for an impacted butt, but I haven't had a normal BM in five days now, and my guts are starting to feel "full up." I went from no movement and sensation to some gurgling and gas, but still I am barely squeezing out toothpaste size BMs.

    Are there any other last-ditch things I can try? Tried epsom salts for two nights, drinking two liters of water with two tsps of salt this morning (ow). I guess I'll try the corn syrup thing mentioned in the old constipation thread when I feel a little less full up.
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  12. #12
    Bamabelle, have you tried Miralax (aka ducolax, = polyethylene glycol)?
    Diagnosed with stage 2c papillary serous cystadenoma borderline malignancy of the ovary in 2009. Hysterectomy, omenectomy, appendectomy, debulking. 2010 - laparoscopy showed inoperable recurrence, so started chemo. Frontline chemo - carboplatin and cyclophosphamide, six cycles; Avastin - ten cycles; Weekly Topotecan - 4 cycles. Spring 2012 developed pleural nodules. Topotecan plus Avstin - 1year. April, 2014, had surgery to remove Aspergillus infection from right lung.

  13. #13
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    Oh, I see that's a stool softener whereas the senakot type stuff I picked up today is a stimulant. That's exactly what I need I bet. Hmph. Back to the drug store. Thank you! (Grudgingly picked up a disposable enema also. But that just stimulates things too I gather, so will hold off till I try some Miralax.)
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  14. #14
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    2 days Miralax. Seems to work, but I haven't expelled anything close to a week's worth of stool. Not even a healthy-eating day's worth, now that I think of it in those terms.

    My guts aren't doing anything unassisted. I've been able to go a little bit once a day after taking Miralax the day prior and then drinking a liter of water, a cup of prune juice, a shot of mineral oil and kickstarting everything with a glycerine suppository.

    This nothing like chemo constipation. It feels like my GI's shut down.

    I hope to heck my doctor says she knows what's going on or knows how to go about figuring it out. If she gives me her tradmarked blank look and says she's never heard of anything like it and is sure it can't be related to cancer or treatment, I will either walk out or become violent. Seriously, I really would have to do the first one, because that's how she always answers anytime I bring up a problem or concern. It's simply impossible for every health problem I'm having for the first time to be unrelated and just coincidentally arising after cancer treatment.
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  15. #15
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    Hi Bamabelle,

    Thought I would jump in and let you know what worked for my dad. My dad was taking morphine and percocet for his pain which made him extremely constipated. The longest he went was 6 days. We tried everything, stimulants, Mirolax, ducalax. The doctor prescribed Lactulose which he was taking daily. None of this stuff worked. Our last resort was Milk of Magnesia. His home care nurse suggest we try this. My dad had the dosage indicated on the bottle and 12 hours later viola! That did the trick, we gave this to him for 3 days which relieved all the pain he had. So, right now I'd swear by Milk of Magnesia. that did the trick for my father.

    Hope you are feeling better.....

    Laura
    71 year old Father diagnosed 2/2/2012 with Stage IV Lung Cancer NSCS with METS to the Brain, spine, bones, Adrenal Glands, Lymph Nodes, Liver, Pancreas, omentum.


    Heart Attack 2/19/2012
    Whole Brain Radiation and Radiation to the Spine 2/27/2012 completed 15 sessions on 3/16/2012
    Heart Attack 3/10/2012

    Passed away 3/26/2012[/B] I love you dad, you will be missed.

    http://www.cancerforums.net/threads/...IV-Lung-Cancer

  16. #16
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    Plain ole medicine cabinet staple milk of magnesia, eh? Thanks, Laura, I will try that next time I feel the need!

    I mentioned my plight to the doctor and she wasn't even a little concerned. Seemed absolutely satisfied with me saying I had been taking every laxative in the pharmacy with only minimal relief.

    Seems to have gotten a little better, but nothing but lame, skinny bms when I have them. Makes me think there may be some scarring or other damage from radiation in that area.

    Well, I will have to see my radiation oncologist in the next few weeks after I have another procedure done, so I guess I'll just keep trying to maintain so I can say I've done everything and need to be checked out if I'm not better by the time I see her.

    Speaking of trying everything, didn't someone mention sorbitol somewhere around here? Well I kind of went overboard and ate nearly half a carton of "no sugar added" sherbet yesterday and have been going all day today because of it. Didn't realize that sorbitol would be considered "no sugar," but that's one of the top ingredients on the label. I wouldn't recommend that strategy, though, because it left me crampy and gassy and uncomfortable most of the day. But it did ease the jam in my guts a good bit.
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  17. #17
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    An update with some real solutions: Apparently the sorbitol-induced diarrhea did more to dehydrate me than clean out my intestinal tract. I took two senakot type pills at the end of that week and ended up having several big, normal type BMs finally and have been going relatively normally unassisted ever since. A glass of metamucil at night and a shot of aloe vera juice twice a day seems to be slowly returning everything to normal finally. Three cheers for time and nature's bounty! Beats anything the drugstore has to offer at least 75 percent of the time.
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  18. #18
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    Dear Purpleyam, Constipation is temporary nothing to worry just.

    Try to expend strand and determine you're delighting in a high-filament eating routine, on a mixture of leafy foods. Drink 2-3 Liters of water for every day or 8-10 cups.

    Maintain a strategic distance from Fat nourishment's, for example cheddar, eggs, and meat this fatty food takes a step back to digestive.

    Vegetables: Artichoke hearts, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels grows, cabbage, carrots, green beans, peas and squash.

    I hope it will helpful for you.

  19. #19
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    Hello Purpleyam.... Lack of fiber intake and water are making the people constipated. It is not permanent, we can overcome this problem by taking proper diet and increase in water consumption. Leafy vegetables have both soluble and insoluble fibers, add these to his diet. Water can make the stool softener that can be easily flush out, so drink daily 8 - 10 glasses of water. If the problem is getting serious better to consult doctor.

 
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