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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Advice on diet for people affected by oesophageal cancer

While you are waiting for treatment it is important to eat well, using food supplements if necessary. You may be able to see a hospital dietitian for advice at the time of diagnosis and after surgery. If you are unable to swallow at all, you should let the hospital know immediately.

If you have had surgery that has not removed a major part of your stomach, you can start to eat as soon as your doctor says you can. You will usually start with a soft diet while you are still in hospital, and will often be advised to remain on this for a few weeks. This will naturally exercise the surgical join and help keep the passage open as it heals.

Gradually you will be able to start eating solid foods again, as long as there are no large lumps and you chew the food well. You may feel rather worried about eating solid foods at first but this will lessen as you become more used to a normal diet again. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you further advice about this. Some people may have an allergic reaction to milk for a while.

When you eat, acidic liquid flows into the stomach to help digest the food. This can cause an uncomfortable feeling of indigestion because of the new position of your stomach.

If you have had part of your stomach removed, you will find that you feel full very quickly because your stomach will be smaller. To help prevent these problems, eat little and often rather than trying to eat large meals. It can also help to chew food well and eat slowly.

Bouts of diarrhoea are fairly common after any operation for cancer of the oesophagus. From time to time you may need to cut out some foods, such as fruit, vegetables, cereals and reduce the amount of milk you drink (or eat in food) to help deal with this problem.

If you have had radiotherapy, or a tube fitted in your oesophagus, you will probably need a softer diet. Avoid foods which may block the tube or which you may have difficulty in swallowing; such as raw fruit and vegetables, tough meat or crusty bread. Complan® and any powdered food supplement must be very thoroughly mixed. It is also a good idea to eat slowly and to have plenty to drink during and after meals.

The Oesophageal Patients Association can give recipes and ideas to make your meals more interesting. If you begin to have difficulty in swallowing again, it may be that your tube has become blocked. Contact your hospital doctor or nurse for advice.

Our diet section includes some recipe ideas which may also be helpful.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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