Nutritional Changes Following Substantial Colon Resection

Katrina Claghorn, R.D.
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I am looking for information about changes in bowel habits, changes in diet, other practical hints, tips, etc. after substantial colon resection following surgery involving two synchronous cancers with many polyps. The rectum will remain intact. And colostomy is not anticipated.  

Katrina Claghorn, R.D., Oncology Dietitian for The University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Following a colon resection I would recommend a low fiber, low lactose and low fat diet. However as the bowel recovers fiber should be gradually reintroduced and regular dairy foods should be tolerated. Also make sure you are including high protein foods to help your body rebuild.

As for changes in bowel habits — both diarrhea and constipation may be experienced. If diarrhea is a problem avoid high lactose foods and include rice, bananas and applesauce as well as making sure you drink plenty of fluids. For constipation increase your intake of fiber (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and again drink plenty of fluids.

Following surgery you may need supplements of vitamin B12, however discuss this with your doctor.