Diet after surgery for anal cancer

After surgery, you may notice certain foods upset your bowel. High-fibre foods, such as fruit and vegetables, may make your stools loose and make you go to the toilet more often. Tell your doctor or nurse if this happens, as they can give you medicine to help. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids if you have diarrhoea.

There are no rules about which foods to avoid. Foods that cause problems for one person may be fine for another person. After a while, you may find that things settle down.

After surgery, it sometimes takes months for bowel movements to get back to normal. Some people may find their bowel is permanently more active than it was before. They may have to eat carefully to control their bowel movements. Your stoma nurse will give you advice about this.

You may also find your bowel produces more wind than it did before. This can be uncomfortable. Drinking peppermint water or taking charcoal tablets can help reduce this. Your doctor can prescribe these for you, or you can get them from your chemist.

If you continue to have problems with bowel movements or wind, talk to a dietitian at the hospital. They can give you specialist advice for your individual situation.

If you are having bowel problems, our food guide may be helpful.

Back to Surgery explained

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.

If you have a stoma

Adjusting to a stoma takes time but most people manage well with support from their stoma care nurse.