Colostomy Bag with Bowel Cancer

While rates of colorectal and bowel cancer have been decreasing in those aged 55 and above, there has been a worrying rise in young adults?

According to The Journal of Medical Screening, younger patients aged between 20 and 40, who would typically be too young to be called for a routine screening, have experienced a yearly increase of 1.3% in colon cancer and 2.3% in rectal cancer since the mid-90s.

Surgery is the most effective treatment option, but a common concern among younger patients is the potential impact it will have on their long-term quality of life. They worry about the possibility of requiring an ileostomy or colostomy bag. The good news is that most patients don’t require a colostomy bag after bowel cancer surgery. And those who do need one tend to find it doesn’t impact them as much as they initially thought.

Advancements in surgery mean 80% to 90% of patients won’t need colostomy bag

Did you know that around 80% to 90% of patients undergoing surgery to excise a tumour from their colon or intestine will not require a colostomy bag? Thanks to cutting-edge imaging technology and enhanced surgical methods, bowel cancer can now be detected much earlier and tumours can be removed more accurately. This often eliminates the need for a colostomy bag.

In 2002-2004, almost 50% of rectal cancer patients underwent a colostomy procedure. Today, specialised surgical teams can significantly decrease this rate, bringing the percentage down to the teens. For colon cancer, it is uncommon for a patient to need a planned colostomy. Those with a higher risk might include those in poor overall health before surgery, and those requiring emergency surgical intervention.

For patients who do require a permanent colostomy bag due to the tumour’s size or position, it shouldn’t impede their ability to pursue their passions. Moreover, in most cases, it is unlikely to be noticeable.

What if I do need a colostomy bag with bowel cancer treatment?

For the small proportion of patients who do require a permanent colostomy bag, Mr Michael Stellakis will evaluate your lifestyle before surgery and offer comprehensive guidance on how to maintain it. Usually, it will only limit you if you let it.

Adapting to the care of a colostomy bag may take some time, especially for active patients. A primary concern is whether others will notice the bag, but in most cases, it will not be noticeably visible.

You will need to tell close partners about the bag as it will be noticeable in intimate situations. Also, you might need help cleaning the bag when required.

A treatment approach tailored to your needs

Your treatment plan depends on whether you have colon or rectal cancer, the stage of your cancer, and whether it has metastasised to other parts of the body. The primary treatment is surgery, which may be accompanied by chemotherapy.

It is common for therapy combinations to be used, and the treatment plan will be determined by a multidisciplinary team (MDT), to provide you with the best chance of a cure, if possible. The process of conducting staging scans and making treatment decisions may take several weeks, which can be a worrying time. But, this is necessary to ensure that you are given the most suitable treatment for the best possible outcome.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about bowel cancer treatment. Book an appointment with Mr Michael Stellakis today.