Review of bowel dysfunction of rectal cancer patients during the first five years after sphincter-preserving surgery: A population in need of nursing attention

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of the review was to summarize the longitudinal changes in bowel dysfunction among patients with rectal cancer within the first five years following sphincter-preserving resection. Methods: A series of literature searches were conducted on six English-language electronic databases. Articles published after 1990 were searched. A total of 29 articles (reporting 27 studies) was found. Results: Bowel dysfunction, including an alteration in the frequency of bowel movements, incontinence, abnormal sensations, and difficulties with evacuation, is reported among patients with rectal cancer within the first five years after sphincter-preserving resection. These problems are most frequent and severe within the first year, especially within the first six months, and stabilize after one year. Some of the problems may last for years. Conclusion: Supportive care for bowel dysfunction is needed, and should include the provision of information and psychological support delivered in multiple steps. Oncology nurses can play an important role in providing supportive care for rectal cancer patients with bowel dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-692
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • Bowel dysfunction
  • Post-operation
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)

Cite this