Skip Navigation

Visiting Dana-Farber? See our prescreening and mask requirements.

Managing chemotherapy-induced diarrhea

  • Many cancer patients experience diarrhea while they're undergoing chemotherapy treatment. These tips can help you cope with diarrhea.

    Diarrhea is a liquid-like loose stool. At the first sign of poorly formed or loose stools, or if you notice you are having more bowel movements than usual, you should begin taking Imodium (Loperamide).

    • Take two caplets (4 mg) followed by one caplet (2 mg) every two hours until you have had no diarrhea for 12 hours.
    • During the night, take two caplets (4 mg) at bed time and continue every four hour during the night until morning.
    • Stop taking Imodium only after there is no sign of diarrhea for 12 hours.

    What to drink if you have diarrhea

    • Drink at least six to eight large glasses of decaffeinated fluid a day.
    • Drink a little at a time as often as you can. Water, clear soups, and Gatorade are all good.

    What not to eat or drink

    • Don't drink milk, coffee and alcohol. Avoid very hot or very cold fluids.
    • The following foods can make the diarrhea or cramping worse: fatty, fried or greasy foods, spicy foods, high-fiber foods, bran and some cereals, raw fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, beans, popcorn, nuts, and chocolate.

    Modify your diet

    Think BRAT. The BRAT diet is a simple, gentle and effective way to ease intestinal upset that causes diarrhea.

    • Eat small meals that include:
    • B-Bananas
    • R-Rice
    • A-Applesauce
    • T-Tea (decaffeinated) and Toast

    The diet is fat-free and easily digested. You do not need to eat all these foods at any one meal; any combination is fine. You could have tea and toast for breakfast, applesauce and toast for lunch, and banana slices and rice for dinner.

    If you do well on these foods, you can start adding others, like:

    • Bland low-fiber foods
    • White-meat chicken without the skin
    • Crackers, white bread, and pasta without sauce
    • Canned or cooked fruits without skin
  • Chemotherapy
  • Coping with Cancer