According to results of a qualitative analysis of pooled data from 2 studies of cancer survivors living with an ostomy, leakage was reported as the greatest challenge associated with managing an ostomy appliance. The findings from this study were published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

A growing number of survivors of a wide range of cancers, including colorectal, bladder, and gynecologic cancers, are living with either a temporary or a permanent ostomy (eg, colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy).

The aim of this study was to investigate the challenges encountered by long-term cancer survivors in managing their ostomies.

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This analysis included responses from cancer survivors asked to identify their greatest challenge related to living with an ostomy. These responses were collected as part of 2 previously-conducted studies: a population-based survey study of longer term survivors of rectal cancer; and a randomized trial of patients with colorectal, bladder, and gynecologic cancers that included 2- to 5-year survivors of cancer.

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Of the 106 responses focused on ostomy appliances and related repercussions, as well as the time involved in ostomy care, the most common themes identified were bleeding, pain, leakage, skin problems/irritation/rash, wafer-related issues, materials getting under the wafer, time to care for the ostomy, and solutions to clean the ostomy.

With respect to challenges related to management of the ostomy appliance, leakage, skin problems, and pain were mentioned by 27%, 20%, and 14% of respondents, respectively.

“Survivors may benefit from interventions that begin in the perioperative setting, and the support should continue through long-term survivorship, as many continue to struggle with long-term ostomy adjustments,” commented the study authors.


Sun V, Bojorquez O, Grant M, Wendel CS, Weinstein R, Krouse RS. Cancer survivors’ challenges with ostomy appliances and self-management: a qualitative analysis. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05156-7

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor