A trial looking at an exercise programme for people after bowel cancer surgery (CRIB)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Colon cancer
Rectal cancer





This trial is seeing if an exercise programme used by people who have heart disease can help people who are recovering from bowel cancer surgery.

Studies have shown that exercise after bowel cancer surgery may reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. It can also reduce the tiredness (fatigue) and depression that may happen after surgery. But often people in this situation don’t know if it is safe to exercise.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and health advice for people recovering from a heart attack. This gives them the confidence to exercise and improve their wellbeing. The researchers think that this programme may help people who are recovering from bowel cancer surgery.

In this pilot trial the researchers will ask people who are recovering from bowel cancer surgery to take part in a cardiac rehabilitation programme. This will be alongside people who have had a heart attack.

The aims of this pilot trial are to find out

  • If it is possible to deliver a cancer rehabilitation programme within the cardiac rehabilitation programme
  • How acceptable this would be for both the patients and the health care professionals
  • The possibility of doing a larger trial

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this trial if you are recovering from surgery to remove your bowel cancer.

You cannot enter this trial if

  • Your bowel cancer has spread to another part of your body
  • You are not able to take part in exercise classes or your doctor thinks you shouldn’t


Trial design

This pilot trial is in 2 parts.

The 1st part was a feasibility study that recruited 24 people. This included

  • 12 people who had bowel cancer
  • 6 people who had a heart attack
  • 6 healthcare professionals

The 2nd part is a pilot randomised trial. It will recruit 66 people who are recovering from bowel cancer surgery. These people will be put into 1 of 2 groups. Neither they nor their doctor can choose which group they are in.

  • People in group 1 will take part in an exercise programme during their recovery after surgery
  • People in group 2 will have the usual care after surgery

CRIB trial diagram

You take part in an exercise (cardiac rehabilitation) programme at a centre close to you. There will be both cancer and heart patients in the programme. A member of the cardiac team, for example a cardiac physiotherapist, cardiac nurse or dietician, will run the programme.

As part of the programme, there are sessions that are particularly for you as a cancer patient. A cancer nurse will deliver these sessions.

The programme will be a mixture of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises. Following this there will be an education session. This will include sessions about diet, stress management, relaxation and the benefits of exercise.

You will have individual physical activity goals set. This will be with the support and advice of a physiotherapist.

For a week on 3 separate occasions, you will be asked to wear a device that monitors your level of physical activity. Below is a picture of the device. It is similar to a wristwatch except you wear it around your waist.

Device for CRIB trial

The researchers will ask you to fill in 3 short questionnaires. You fill them in when you agree to take part, at the end of the exercise programme and then 6 months later. The questionnaires will ask about how you have been feeling and what you are able to do. This is called a quality of life study.

At the end of the programme, the researchers may ask to interview you to find out what you thought about taking part in the programme. This will take about 30 minutes. They will audio record the interview. You don’t have to agree to do the interview you can still take part in the trial.

Hospital visits

You will go to the exercise programme once a week or twice a week for 2 or 3 months, depending on which centre you go to.

Side effects

With any exercise there are risks. To minimise the risk, you and a specialist physiotherapist will decide on the programme of exercise you do. This will take into account your current ability and level of fitness.

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 Gill Hubbard

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Stirling

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10803

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

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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