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Research into living with bowel cancer

Read about the latest UK research into living with bowel cancer and improving quality of life.

Quality of life

Doctors are keen to improve the quality of life for people having bowel cancer treatment. Quality of life means looking at how a cancer or treatment affects your life.

Researchers are looking into many issues about living with bowel cancer. These include:

  • how people cope after surgery
  • reducing bowel problems after radiotherapy
  • lifestyle changes after having bowel cancer

Quite often quality of life studies are done as part of a clinical trial.

Bowel cancer surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer. But we don't know much about how surgery affects people's lives. 

Researchers are looking into recovery after bowel surgery, how long it takes and what problems might occur. They also want to find out more about how people feel and cope after their surgery.

They hope this research will help to identify people who might have problems following surgery and the best way to help them.

Changes in lifestyle after bowel cancer

Researchers are looking into how best to promote a healthy lifestyle for people after treatment for bowel cancer. 

They provided leaflets and booklets about diet and exercise after treatment. In some studies they also followed people up with regular phone calls to see how they were going and to offer support. 

Results from some studies show that a number of people were eating a healthier diet and doing more exercises. This continued even after the study was finished. 

Studies are continuing to look at what people think of the information provided on a healthy lifestyle after bowel cancer treatment. And also if it helps them to change their current habits to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Bowel problems after radiotherapy

Radiotherapy for bowel cancer can cause problems including frequent bowel movements, diarrhoea, pain, bleeding from the bowel and scar tissue in the bowel.

Researchers have looked at high pressure oxygen called hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) to help. Some studies found it didn't help and others found it did. So it is felt that more research is needed to know for sure. 

Other studies have looked at using a palm oil supplement and a drug called pentoxifyline to relieve symptoms caused by bowel cancer radiotherapy. Researchers think this combination might reduce the scar tissue in the bowel caused by radiotherapy. 

Last reviewed: 
22 Sep 2015
  • Clinical trials database
    Cancer Research UK
    Accessed 14 November 2016

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