I have been diagnosed with stomach cancer and anticipate a total gastrectomy. While I know that getting back to (solid) food may be a slow process, I am wondering what kinds of food, if any, I will need to totally, or mostly avoid. Or, is it just that I will need to eat in small (very?) quantities more frequently? What about an occaisonal glass of wine? Ice Cream? Cookies? Comfort food?
Also, how long should I expect it to take for me to be able to eat solid food after the surgery? FYI, I am 57 and otherwise in excellent health, and rarely have any digestive problems (other than occaisonal GERD if I have chocolate or too much to eat late at night).
Recovery from a major surgery such as this can last several weeks. As to when you can eat normal food - this is again variable by patient, but can range from several days to weeks before a normal diet is tolerated. If a total gastrectomy is done, vitamin B12 supplementation would be needed.
Most studies show an acceptable quality of life after this surgery. The post-op course can vary by patient. Some may be able to tolerate a normal diet and have a healthy appetite. Some may lose weight and have poorer appetites. Some may need an extended course of a special diet - some may be able to tolerate regular food.
As part of the surgery, you will meet with a dietician to discuss your specific dietary changes after the surgery, if needed.
Followup with your personal physician is essential.
This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
There are a couple of ways to create a pouch to replace the stomach; the fact is that it's unpredictable, but many people are able to eat a quite normal diet, restricted mainly by quantity. Those who have problems usually find it's high-calorie liquids (such as a milkshake) that cause them. I always told my patients to try whatever they felt like eating, but to do so in small quantities, and that we'd be able to figure out what, if any, modifications might eventually be needed. Each surgeon will have a somewhat different approach, to long-term diet as well as to what is recommended immediately postop. I recently saw one of my total gastrectomy patients at a restaurant, chowing down on steak and mashed potatos.
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