Ostomies in rectal cancer patients: What is their psychosocial impact?

S. Kenderian, E. K. Stephens, A. Jatoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The resection of a low-lying rectal cancer can lead to the creation of an ostomy to discharge fecal material. In view of this reconfiguration of anatomy and life-changing modification of daily bodily functions, it is not surprising that a rapidly growing literature has examined ostomy patients' psychosocial challenges. The current study was designed (1) to systematically review the published literature on these psychosocial challenges and (2) to explore, in a single-institution setting, whether medical oncologists appear to acknowledge the existence of an ostomy during their post-operative evaluations of rectal cancer patients. This systematic review identified that social isolation, sleep deprivation; financial concerns; sexual inhibition; and other such issues are common among patients. Surprisingly, however, in our review of 66 consecutive rectal cancer patients, in 17%, the ostomy was not mentioned at all in the medical record during the first medical oncology visit; and, in one patient, it was never mentioned at all during months of adjuvant chemotherapy. Even in the setting of ostomy complications, the ostomy was not always mentioned. This study underscores the major psychosocial issues cancer patients confront after an ostomy and suggests that healthcare providers of all disciplines should work to remain sensitive to such issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-332
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Ostomy
  • Psychosocial
  • Rectal cancer
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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