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Research into living with bowel cancer

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This page has information about research into living with bowel cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Research into living with bowel cancer

Doctors are keen to improve the quality of life of people having treatment for bowel cancer. To a researcher, quality of life means looking at how a cancer or a treatment affects your life and not just the effect it has on your cancer.

Researchers are looking into many issues to do with living with bowel cancer, including how people cope after surgery, the use of complementary therapies, reducing bowel problems after radiotherapy, and making changes to lifestyle after having bowel cancer.

Cancer Research UK supports a lot of UK clinical trials to improve quality of life for people with cancer.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating bowel cancer section.

 

 

Research into improving quality of life

Doctors are keen to improve the quality of life of people having treatment for bowel cancer. To a researcher, quality of life means looking at how a cancer or a treatment affects your life and not just the effect it has on your cancer.

Researchers are looking into many issues to do with living with bowel cancer, including how people cope after surgery, the use of complementary therapies, reducing bowel problems after radiotherapy, and making changes to lifestyle after having bowel cancer.

Cancer Research UK supports a lot of UK clinical trials to improve the quality of life for people with cancer.

 

Research into the effects of surgery

The CREW study is looking at problems and experiences that people have when recovering from bowel cancer surgery. Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer, but we don't know much about how the surgery affects people's lives. We also don't know how long it takes most people to recover and what problems they have. The researchers want to find out how people feel and how they cope after surgery. They hope this will help to identify people who may have problems and show how best to help them. This study has closed and we are waiting for the results.

 

Complementary therapy research

Some complementary therapies can help to improve the quality of life of people with cancer. Research is increasing in this area. Some of the therapies being studied include relaxation techniques and guided imagery or visualising the cancer cells being attacked (visualisation). Possible benefits of these techniques include

  • Helping people feel better
  • Helping people to cope better with having cancer
  • Increasing the activity of the immune system.

Many small studies in cancer centres and units around the UK are looking at how complementary therapies can be used as part of cancer care. Health professionals have a growing interest in this way of supporting patients. You can find information about current UK studies on the complementary therapy research page.

 

Changes in lifestyle after bowel cancer

A small study looked at lifestyle changes after treatment for bowel cancer. 29 people took part in a 3 month programme to help change their lifestyle. The study team gave everyone written information describing the evidence for the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. They also phoned the people taking part every 2 weeks to find out how they were getting on and to make suggestions to help improve their diet, do more exercise and reduce how much alcohol they drank. Most people completed the study and liked taking part. The study team found on average, people were eating a healthier diet and doing more exercise by the end of the study. The people also rated their quality of life higher at the end of the study, and that their ability to do usual daily activities improved.

The HEAL CRC:DCT study is looking at finding the best way to develop a healthy eating and activity programme for people after bowel cancer. This study has now closed and we are waiting for the results.

The ASCOT study is looking at promoting a healthy lifestyle for people who have had treatment for bowel cancer. The researchers have developed a booklet with advice on diet and exercise. They want to find out what people think about the booklets and if it helps them to change their current habits and lead a healthier lifestyle.

 

Bowel problems after radiotherapy

The HOT II trial is looking at whether using a high pressure oxygen treatment called hyberbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy can help to relieve the long term side effects of having radiotherapy to the area between the hip bones (the pelvis). Some people have side effects such as frequent bowel movements, diarrhoea, pain, bleeding from the bowel and the forming of scar tissue in the bowel (radiation fibrosis). This trial has closed and we are waiting for the results.

The PPALM trial is looking at the use of a palm oil supplement and a drug called pentoxifylline to relieve symptoms caused by pelvic radiotherapy. Doctors think these may work well together to reduce radiation fibrosis. The trial team want to find out if this combination of treatment helps, and to learn more about the side effects.

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Updated: 22 September 2015