Stomach Cancer Diet

If you’re living with cancer, there’s no standard stomach cancer diet; each person’s nutritional needs vary depending on their treatment plan, how much food you can tolerate and individual health differences and diet preferences. Individual nutritional counseling is an important part of your stomach cancer treatment.

Stomach Cancer Diet After Surgery

If surgery is your treatment for cancer, you may need to use a feeding tube to get the nutrients you need for some period of time. This tube may be removed as you heal and become able to eat, or the tube could be permanent.

After a surgery that removes all or part of your stomach, you can’t eat large amounts of food at once–typically, you need to eat small, frequent meals. You may need to avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as fried chicken.

If the upper part of your stomach was removed surgically, you’ll probably need to have your vitamin blood levels tested regularly. Because you no longer have stomach tissue to absorb nutrients from food, you may need vitamin supplements, including vitamin B12 injections; without an upper stomach, your body can’t absorb these vitamins from pills.

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is a common problem that can occur after stomach surgery. In the early stages of dumping syndrome–which occurs about 30 to 60 minutes after you eat–food moves too quickly into the small intestine, causing symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Sweating, flushing or light-headedness.

Late dumping can occur about one to three hours after eating. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Flushing or sweating
  • Hunger
  • Loss of concentration or feeling mentally confused
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shakiness, dizziness or fainting.

The condition isn’t serious, and you can reduce the risk of it by eating small, regular meals slowly. Avoid high-sugar foods, cut down on liquids and very high-fiber foods.

Stomach Cancer Diet for Chemotherapy or Radiation

If you’re receiving chemotherapy or radiation, you may feel full after eating only a small amount–or lose your appetite entirely. However, maintaining good nutrition is essential to the healing process. You may want to consider:

  • Drinking protein smoothies that are high in calories and protein
  • Eating foods high in calories and protein, so you don’t have to eat a lot
  • Using appetite stimulants, but only under the direction of a dietitian.

Finding the right stomach cancer diet for you may take a little experimentation. Take it slowly and work with a professional.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2010). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/StomachCancer/DetailedGuide/stomach-cancer-what-is-stomach-cancer

CancerHelpUK. (2010). Diet after stomach surgery. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/stomach-cancer/living/diet-after-stomach-surgery

Cancer Treatment Centers of America. (2010). Stomach cancer nutrition therapy. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from http://www.cancercenter.com/stomach-cancer/nutritional-therapy.cfm

National Cancer Institute. (2009). Stomach (gastric) cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/stomach