Five Ways to Manage the Side Effects of Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Colorectal cancer treatment typically involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program includes a multispecialty team that is dedicated to providing the best possible colorectal cancer treatment for our patients. In addition to providing a wide spectrum of treatment and supportive care services at our cancer center, Moffitt is also committed to providing patients with the information they need to help them manage the recovery process.

As with any other cancer treatment, you can expect to experience some side effects during your recovery from colorectal cancer. Here are five common side effects along with ways to manage them:

  • Change in bowel function – Eating smaller, more frequent meals and drinking plenty of fluids can help with constipation. For diarrhea, certain foods, such as bananas, mashed potatoes and marshmallows may help.
  • Nausea/vomiting – It may help to start with bland foods and avoid caffeine and alcohol until these side effects subside.
  • Loss of appetite – Similar to the recommendations above, smaller and more frequent meals that include mostly bland foods may be easier to tolerate if you have lost your appetite.
  • Tiredness/fatigue – It is important to take it slow during your recovery and plan to take frequent breaks as needed until you have regained some strength.
  • Numbness/tingling – Also called peripheral neuropathy, tingling in the extremities or an inability to handle heat or cold can occur following colorectal cancer treatment. Eating foods and drinking fluids at room temperature may be helpful.

Are there medications that can help with my side effects?

In many cases, your physician can prescribe a medication that can help with a specific side effect. Therefore, it is important to communicate fully with your physician about any side effects you are experiencing following your treatment. This can also help your physician identify possible signs of complications earlier in the recovery.

If you would like to learn more about receiving colorectal cancer treatment at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form. No referral is necessary.