A study of health and lifestyle in people who have had bowel cancer

Cancer type:

Adrenal gland cancer
Bowel (colorectal) cancer





This study looked at whether certain lifestyle choices such as not smoking and being active were associated with people’s quality of life.

More about this trial

We know from research there is a link between lifestyle choices, quality of life and the risk of cancer coming back. These choices include

  • not smoking
  • having an active lifestyle
  • a healthy diet
  • only drinking alcohol in moderation
  • keeping to a healthy body weight

Other studies have also found that healthy lifestyles could improve peoples’ quality of life after bowel cancer treatment.

In this study, the researchers wanted to learn more about the lifestyle choices and quality of life in people who had treatment for bowel cancer.

Summary of results

The study team found the lifestyle choices of many bowel cancer survivors weren’t the best they could choose. These choices had an impact on their quality of life Open a glossary item.

The study team sent out questionnaires to people who were treated for bowel (colorectal) cancer in the past 6 months to 5 years. The questionnaires included questions on

  • exercise and physical activity
  • how much fruit and vegetables were eaten
  • if they smoked or used to smoke
  • their drinking habits
  • weight and height
  • quality of life

The researchers looked at 479 questionnaires. They found that the majority of people

  • were overweight or obese
  • ate fewer than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
  • weren’t physically active

Only a few were smokers or heavy drinkers.

People who were physically active and ate 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetable had a higher quality of life than those who didn’t.

The team particularly looked at what people thought were the barriers and benefits of physical exercise after treatment for bowel cancer.

The most common barrier reported was tiredness caused by their cancer or its treatment. Other barriers were due to age such as general aches and pains and not been able to get about as much as they used to.

The most common benefit reported was improved health and wellbeing. This included

  • feeling less tired
  • having less pain
  • sleeping better

People rarely reported benefits related to their cancer such as preventing it coming back.

The study team concluded that poor lifestyle behaviours were associated with a poorer quality of life. By showing that people who eat a healthy diet and are more physically active feel better and identifying barriers to these, doctors and nurses can help people overcome them after treatment. And reinforce the benefits they may gain from this.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journals. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Chloe Grimmett

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 3155

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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