Diarrhea is a common side effect of chemotherapy regimens, particularly fluorouracil- and irinotecan-based therapies and abdominal and pelvic radiation regimens. Diarrhea can cause depletion of fluids and electrolytes, malnutrition, dehydration, and hospitalization, all of which can lead to cardiovascular compromise and death. Therefore, diarrhea can interfere with and detract from cancer treatment by causing dosing delays or reductions. Evidence supports pharmacologic interventions such as loperamide and octreotide as recommendations for practice. Emerging evidence suggests that probiotics are likely to be effective, but more extensive research is warranted as the field evolves. Soluble fiber supplements are likely to be effective for treating chemotherapy- or radiotherapy-induced diarrhea; however, additional research is needed because the type and dose of soluble fiber most effective in treating and preventing these types of diarrhea are unknown. This article is limited to recommendations for chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-induced diarrhea. The chemotherapy regimens included in most of the studies reviewed were the commonly used regimens containing drugs such as fluorouracil, cisplatin, adriamycin, and irinotecan.
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