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Prevention of a Small Bowel Obstruction

Some ovarian cancer survivors are at high risk for a small bowel obstruction. This may be due to surgical adhesions or the tumor itself. First it is important to know what the signs and symptoms are of a partial small bowel obstruction.

Some symptoms may be cramping, gas, bowel changes, nausea and vomiting. Vomiting and increasing abdominal girth and pain may indicate a total obstruction. Keep in mind that symptoms may vary by individual and severity of the obstruction. It is important to notify your doctor immediately.

Dietary Changes
With a partial small bowel obstruction, there may be dietary changes to prevent a complete obstruction. These include:

  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day.
  • Follow a low fiber diet. Avoid fruits and vegetables with skins and seeds; avoid whole grains, nuts and seeds. White bread, white flour based pasta and peeled potatoes may be tolerated. Low fiber cereals include: puffed rice, Cheerios, cream of rice, cornflakes.
  • Avoid fatty and greasy foods. These are much more difficult to digest and may stay in the stomach longer causing greater discomfort.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: water, broth, tea, gelatin and juice may help you stay well hydrated. Some people find that full liquids: hot cereals, puddings, milkshakes and nutritional drinks are tolerated. If nausea is persistent, switching to nutritionally concentrated liquids is worth trying.
  • Avoid lactose containing drinks if gas or milk intolerance is noted.
  • Avoid gas-forming foods such as gassy vegetables (ex: broccoli, cauliflower), soft drinks, beans and chewing gum.

For more individualized assistance contact the registered dietitian at 215-829-6560.

High Protein Smoothie Recipe


  • 8 oz. vanilla or plain yogurt
  • 1 scoop of whey protein powder
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen fruit of choice

Place all ingredients in a wide mouth cup. Blend with an immersion blender. Drink in 4 oz. increments throughout the day. This recipe provides approximately 410 calories and 28 grams of protein.


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