Diarrhea in Oncology

Diarrhea is a very common and often difficult to treat problem in the context of oncology. It is typically associated with a weakened life organization in the intestinal tract, expressed in regeneration disorders of the intestinal mucosa due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy or after bone marrow transplantation (GvHD). Diarrhea also occurs with infections which are more common in the context of a weakened immune system.

Among the chemotherapies that most frequently cause diarrhea are irinotecan and 5-fluorouracil. The causes of diarrhea after chemotherapy are manifold: motility, secretion and resorption disorders may all play a role. Diarrhea is also very common with the tyrosine kinase inhibitors commonly used today, such as imatinib. 

(Other causes, such as short bowel syndrome or pancreatic insufficiency, which also occur frequently in oncological patients, will not be considered here.)

A special form is diarrhea after rectal resection, which is difficult to influence and which develops due to the lack of reservoir function, something that often restricts the patient’s social activities in the long term. High doses of loperamide are often required, in many cases also Tinctura opii.

An increasingly diminished intervention of the soul body is expressed in accelerated intestinal passage and hypersecretion, which are often also accompanied by painful tenesmus in cases of physical damage (e.g., mucositis). The soul body no longer has a proper formative effect in the area of the weakened life organization and subsequently does not reach the physical level adequately either. There is a disturbance in the breathing equilibrium between the upbuilding resorption processes and the degenerative processes of secretion and movement.

The therapeutic approach

The therapeutic aim is to support upbuilding life processes and strengthen the structuring forces of the soul body in the area of the intestinal mucosa. The ‘I’-organization should be called upon to integrate and harmonize the exaggerated activity of the soul body. 

 

Research news

Art therapy & anxiety: In her doctoral thesis published 2020, Annemarie Abbing investigated the effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of anxiety. Outcomes of a randomised controlled trial (n=59) showed preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of art therapy: Three months of anthroposophic art therapy led to a significant reduction in the severity of anxiety symptoms in the women compared to waiting list treatment. The therapy also improved quality of life and various aspects of self-regulation. The second part of this PhD research focused on case report methodology and the development of tools for research within this field. The doctoral thesis is available at 
https://scholarlypublications.universiteitleiden.nl/handle/1887/83276.


Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine