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Diet after colon resection for cancer

Updated February 21, 2017

A surgeon performs colon resection surgery when colon cancer has grown into the colon. During the surgery, the doctor removes some of the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer as well. The type of diet tolerated after the surgery depends on the stage of the recovery. Only when the colon and bowel return to normal function will the diet progress to solid foods.

Immediately After Surgery

After the surgery, the patient cannot consume food or drink. It is important to determine if colon function has returned before any food or liquid enters the stomach. Nurses monitor the patient after the surgery to see that the colon heals properly. A bowel sound, which occurs when gas passes through the bowels, is a sign of returning function. Doctors perform colon resection with laparoscopic surgery or an open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is much easier to recover from and may result in a quicker return to solid foods after surgery. The progression of the diet will depend on the patient and his ability to tolerate foods and liquids after surgery. The diet will not progress to the next stage until the patient can tolerate liquids. Typically, the patient will begin on soft foods before leaving the hospital. A hospital stay for a colon resection surgery is only a few days if the surgery is laparoscopic surgery. An open colon resection surgery may require a six-to-10-day hospital stay.

Returning Colon Function

Returning colon function is a good sign that the patient is healing properly. Liquids progress to foods that are easy to digest. Hot cereals and cream-based soups are a good start to solid foods. Puddings and ice cream are smooth and easily digested after cancer surgery. Fried and greasy foods are difficult to digest. Do not eat these foods during this stage of your postoperative diet. Low-fat foods are easier to digest as well. Soft foods that are easy to digest are best for a couple of weeks after a colon resection surgery.

Solid Foods

It may take several weeks before you are able to eat a regular diet. Foods that cause gas may cause abdominal discomfort. Eat smaller meals throughout the day to avoid digestion problems after a colon resection surgery. The digestive system will function more quickly after a colon resection. This may lead to diarrhoea and an absorption problem with the nutrients in the foods you eat. Discuss supplementation with the doctor after your surgery to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition after your colon resection.

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About the Author

Luanne Kelchner works out of Daytona Beach, Florida and has been freelance writing full time since 2008. Her ghostwriting work has covered a variety of topics but mainly focuses on health and home improvement articles. Kelchner has a degree from Southern New Hampshire University in English language and literature.