Many people who have gallbladder cancer lose their appetite and some may lose weight. If you have
Your diet may have to change after you have surgery for gallbladder cancer. This can also have an affect on your bowels.
Diet problems after surgery
You may have problems with your diet if you have had surgery to try to cure gallbladder cancer.
Surgery to try to cure gallbladder cancer often involves removing the gallbladder, part of the bowel, liver and pancreas. Any problems you might have after surgery will depend on the type of surgery you had. Problems include:
- loose or watery poo (diarrhoea)
- difficulty digesting food
diabetesif doctors remove a large part of your pancreas
Tell your doctor or specialist nurse about any digestive problems you have. They can give you treatment to control them. Sometimes, it takes time to get things right.
After having your gallbladder removed diarrhoea can be a problem.
This is because bile is no longer stored in the gallbladder and flows directly from the liver into your small bowel. Also, after your gallbladder has been taken out, your stools tend to stay in your bowel for less time. So you have to go to the toilet more often.
Diarrhoea will improve with time, but unfortunately, it can last for many years. This can make everyday life more difficult. Being continuously worried about having an accident with your bowels when you are out, can be difficult.
Some things may help. You could:
- ask your doctor to recommend anti diarrhoea medicines to slow down your bowel
- ask your doctor about medicines that help bind the bile
- avoid foods that you find make diarrhoea worse, such as caffeine in tea and coffee, and spicy and fatty foods
- wear a small pad in your pants – it may feel strange but might help to prevent embarrassing moments in public and so help you feel more confident
- get a 'Just can't wait card' from the Bladder and Bowel Community – the card allows holders access to toilets in shops and pubs etc
Snacks and small meals
You may find it easier to have lots of small meals through the day, rather than sticking to the traditional 3 meals a day.
It is a good idea to have plenty of nutritious snacks to hand that you can have whenever you feel like eating. If you can manage it, it's best to choose full fat versions of yoghurts and puddings, so that you get the most calories.
You could try:
- yoghurts or fromage frais
- other soft puddings such as trifle or chocolate mousse
- dried fruit
- stewed or fresh fruit (bananas are high in calories)
- instant soups (make up with milk to boost calories)
- milky drinks
Some of these ideas may not suit your digestion but they might be worth a try. If in doubt, check with your dietitian.
Try to think of quick ways of having the things you like to eat. If possible, get someone to prepare your favourite foods in advance and freeze them in small portions. A microwave makes defrosting and heating easier and quicker.
If you are finding it hard to eat, there are plenty of nutritional supplements available on prescription. Some are powders you sprinkle on your food and some are drinks that are complete meals in themselves.
Sipping a nutritional supplement between meals throughout the day can really boost your calorie intake. Again, ask your doctor or dietitian about what would be best for you.
If you have diabetes, some nutritional drinks or supplements may affect your blood sugar levels. Your dietitian or specialist nurse can advise you about this.
Insulin and enzyme supplements
If you had part of your pancreas taken out, you will probably still make enough insulin. Your doctor will need to keep a very close eye on your blood sugar to make sure you don't develop diabetes.
You might not make enough digestive juices if you have gallbladder cancer or if you had part of your pancreas taken out. You usually take supplements of enzymes to help you digest fat. These usually come as capsules that you swallow.