Constipation is a common symptom during cancer treatment. The most frequent cause is because of changes in diet (reduced intake of liquids and/or foods rich in fibre), reduced or lack of physical exercise, and coping with certain medicines and drugs. All these factors can reduce bowel movements, causing the stool not to absorb water and to become dry and hard. Bowel movements will become more difficult and can often be accompanied by pain and discomfort.


  • Drink about two litres throughout the day and between meals.
  • Drink mainly water-based liquids, but you can also combine herbal teas, vegetable broths, natural fruit, and vegetable juices with their pulp (plum, orange, pineapple, tomato…).
  • Avoid black tea or other astringent teas, rice, or carrot drinks.
  • Drink one or two glasses of lukewarm water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If there is no nausea, add a tablespoon of virgin olive oil to a glass of lukewarm water, followed by a piece of fruit, such as a kiwi or an orange.

Sit on the toilet every day, if possible, at the same time, even if you do not have a bowel movement at first.

Increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably raw), pulses, whole grains and cereals, mushrooms, and nuts. If you prepare soups, purées, juices, or smoothies, do not strain the preparations to not eliminate fibre.

Some suggested recipes:

Examples of food preparations to incorporate more fibre in meals
Dishes made with whole grains or pulses, with vegetables, dried fruit, or nuts:
Stew/stew dishes:
  • Omelettes: spinach, aubergine, bean, mushroom…
  • Stir-fries: tender garlic, artichokes…
Vegetable and mushroom dishes:
  • Vegetable creams (without straining).
  • Vegetables and mushrooms steamed, microwaved or grilled.
Snacks between hours
  • Muesli, whole grain breakfast cereal (sugar free).
  • Natural yogurt with oats and raisins, raisins and walnuts, etc…
  • Homemade popcorn
  • A handful of dried fruit.
  • A handful of dried fruit: raisins, plums, apricots…
  • Whole fruit with peel: apple, grape, pear, peach, plum…
  • Unpeeled fruit: mango, pineapple, pomegranate…
  • Polos and homemade fruit ice creams.
  • Wholemeal bars or with cereals and seeds.
  • Whole grain cookies.
  • German bread sandwich with whatever tastes best inside.

Such as quince, banana, white rice, toasted bread, baked apple, or compote.

Except for cases where treatment has been accompanied by weight gain.

Walk every day for at least 20 to 30 minutes. If this is not possible, mobilise the gut by doing small clockwise rotating massages on the abdomen.

Do not take laxatives without consulting a specialist.