Research into living with bowel cancer | Cancer Research UK
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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, how best to use follow up appointments, and reducing bowel problems after radiotherapy.

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

 

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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, how best to use follow up appointments, and reducing bowel problems after radiotherapy.

Cancer Research UK supports many 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.

 

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.

 

Follow up for early bowel cancer

The FACS trial has been looking at the best way to follow up patients after treatment for early bowel cancer. The trial team found that regular CT scans and CEA blood tests increased the number of people who could have further surgery to try and cure cancer that had come back. However, after an average follow up of less than 5 years, doing extra follow up tests didn't seem to make a difference to how long people lived in the short term. The researchers say it is too soon to know if this has an impact on long term survival. You can read the results of the FACS trial on our clinical trials database.

 

Changes in lifestyle after bowel cancer

There is a study looking at the lifestyles of people who have had treatment for bowel cancer. Certain lifestyle changes, like stopping smoking, eating healthily or taking more exercise, can help you to feel better, as well as protect you from health problems. The researchers want to find out how people feel about making changes in their lives, and if such changes make a difference to their quality of life.

 

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: 10 September 2013