Constipation (lack of stool or passing of small, hard stool) may result from chemotherapy, radiation therapy, inactivity, medication (especially pain medication), the disease itself or changes in your diet.


  1. Eat a diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, apricots and nuts. If you have trouble chewing and swallowing these, try grating them or putting them in a blender.
  2. Try high-fiber snack foods such as sesame bread sticks, date-nut or prune bread, oatmeal cookies, fig newtons, date or raisin bars, granola and corn chips. Try natural “laxative-type” foods – bran, whole grain cereals, prune juice.
  3. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of bran daily to cooked cereals, casseroles, eggs, baked goods or eat it as a raw cereal.
  4. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of fluid a day. Prune juice is a good “natural stimulant.” Drink plenty of fluids, including milk. This will help to prevent your stool from getting hard.


  1. Light, daily exercise is recommended to help maintain and stimulate regular bowel activity.
  2. Try hot tea, coffee or lemon water early in the morning or 30 minutes to 1 hour before regular time for a bowel movement.
  3. To promote regularity, have a time set each day when you can sit on the commode uninterrupted and quietly.
  4. Gently massage your abdomen from right to left while you’re sitting on the commode.


  1. Report abnormal (an inability to pass stools, blood, diarrhea or green mucous) stools to your doctor or nurse.
  2. If you are undergoing treatment, check first with your doctor or nurse before taking a laxative and/or stool softener.
  3. Avoid frequent use of enemas. They can be harmful to the colon if used too often. Check with your doctor first.
  4. Check with your doctor or nurse if you need additional help.