- Bowel cancer
- Treatment for early bowel cancer
- The risks and side effects of bowel surgery
What to expect after surgery for bowel cancer
Here we discuss the risks and side effects that are commonly associated with bowel surgery.
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Your surgeon will talk to you about the risks and complications of bowel surgery. As with any major operation, bowel surgery has risks. Complications may include infection, bleeding, blood clots, damage to nearby organs, or leaking from the joins between the removed parts of the bowel. You will be carefully monitored for any side effects afterwards.
|Most hospitals in Australia have programs to reduce the stress of surgery and improve your recovery. These are called enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) or fast track surgical (FTS) programs, and they encourage you to play an active part in your care through pre-admission counselling, and education about pain control, diet and exercise so you know what to expect each day after the surgery.|
Changes in bowel and sexual function
Many people find that their bowel and bladder functions change. These usually improve within a few months but, for some people, it can take longer. Erection problems can also be an issue for some men after rectal cancer surgery.
For more on this, see Sexuality, intimacy and cancer.
Changes to your diet
For more on this, see Managing bowel and dietary changes.
It is normal to feel tired after surgery. Although it’s a good idea to stay active and do gentle exercise as recommended by your doctor, you may find that you tire easily and need to rest during the day. Take breaks if you feel tired, and follow your doctor’s advice about restrictions, such as avoiding heavy lifting. You might have to remind your family and friends that it may take several months to recover from surgery.
For more on this, see Fatigue.
Temporary or permanent stoma
For more on this, see Having a stoma.
A/Prof Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Tim Price, Medical Oncologist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, and Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, SA; Department of Dietetics, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Hooi Ee, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Debra Furniss, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis CancerCare, QLD; Jocelyn Head, Consumer; Jackie Johnston, Palliative Care and Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW; Zeinah Keen, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Elizabeth Murphy, Head, Colorectal Surgical Unit, Lyell McEwin Hospital, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
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