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Research into living with bowel cancer

People with bowel cancer have to cope with emotional and psychological effects as well as physical effects. Researchers are keen to improve the quality of life of people with bowel cancer. So research into living with cancer can make a real difference to people who are diagnosed.

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:

  • side effects of 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.

Researchers are also looking at an online programme to help people improve their quality of life after cancer treatment. The programme helps people in different ways, such as becoming more active, reducing stress and feeling less tired. 

Treatment side effects

Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer. A serious side effect from some types of surgery is a leak where 2 parts of the bowel are joined. This can cause long term side effects affecting quality of life. Researchers want to know whether new technology can help lower the risk of this surgery side effect. 

Radiotherapy for bowel cancer can cause problems including frequent bowel movements, diarrhoea, pain, bleeding from the bowel and scar tissue in the bowel. Studies have looked at using a palm oil supplement and a drug called pentoxifyline to relieve these symptoms. Researchers think this combination might reduce the scar tissue in the bowel caused by radiotherapy. 

Changes in lifestyle after bowel cancer

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

In some studies they are providing leaflets and booklets about diet and exercise after treatment. The researchers are looking at what people think of the information provided on a healthy lifestyle. And also if it helps them to change their current habits to live a healthier lifestyle.

Doctors also think that taking part in an exercise programme might help to train your body to cope with the demands of an operation. They want to see if exercise training can improve your recovery after bowel cancer surgery and improve fitness.

Last reviewed: 
21 Nov 2018
  • Clinical trials database
    Cancer Research UK
    Accessed November 2018