ConstipationsmSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Constipation occurs when a person cannot empty his or her bowels or has a feeling of needing to move the bowels but can’t. It starts when the body begins absorbing more water or begins signalling food to move through the bowel system more slowly. Constipation is a common symptom in people with cancer.

Abdominal surgery often affects the function of the GI tract and may result in either diarrhoea or constipation. Sometimes after abdominal surgery, scar tissue (adhesions) can result in a narrowing or partial blockage of the bowel; this may require surgery to reverse.

Cancer deposits may also grow in the abdomen, interfering with bowel function. The most serious form of this condition is a bowel obstruction, where the bowel becomes blocked by a tumour; surgery may be required to reverse this problem.

It is critical to treat constipation properly. If it is left untreated, constipation can cause dehydration, internal damage to the intestine or rectum, or bowel obstruction. It can also slow the body’s absorption of medications taken by mouth. If scar tissue or a tumour is causing the problem, additional tests may be required. Talk with your health care team about the best way to manage your child’s constipation.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Constipation on our static page, Constipation in Childhood Cancer


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