• Choosing a Surgery for Colorectal Cancer and Advice on Living with Colostomy?

    Asked by MeggyinSF on Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Choosing a Surgery for Colorectal Cancer and Advice on Living with Colostomy?

    My spouse was recently diagnosed with Rectal Cancer (stage 1 lesion, unsure about nodal involvement). He just turned 30. The doc said they could not biopsy one of the enlarged lymph nodes next to the tumor and they have ruled out the option that it is enlarged because of all of the poking around during tests. So we have to make a decision on which type of surgery to go with very soon and he is feeling overwhelmed. Here are the options:

    1. transanal full thickness resection; or
    2. anterior peritoneal resection - will result in permanent colostomy,
    or possibly
    3. TEM (transanal endoscopic microsurgery)

    Does anybody have experiences with any of these procedures? Also, he would really like to get in touch with someone who has a colostomy. It seems like everyone at the hospital is gung ho about it, but they don't all have one. It is one thing for the doctor to tell him living with a colostomy is easy but another thing to hear it from a survivor. Thank you!

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • abrub's Avatar

      I know that a number of the colorectal surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC specialize in minimally invasive surgeries, retaining normal function wherever possible. Has he considered a consult at MSK? (My surgeon there is Dr. Paty, and he's wonderful.)

      over 4 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar


      I had a transanal resection in July because my surgeon did not believe my tumor was cancer. The surgery is a little painful and I did have lots of drainage and loss of bowel control for a week or so. I was up and around the same day but the healing took a while.

      Since it was found that I did have cancer, I ended up having to have most of my rectum and descending colon removed. Luckily the tumor was far enough away from my anal sphincter so I had some options. I now have an ileostomy as I am going through chemo but I also had a J-Pouch constructed where my rectum was. It's actually a loop of my colon formed as a pouch to store stool so I can some day have normal bowel function again, just that I will have to go 3-4 times a day instead of once or twice.

      Living with an ileostomy isn't as bad as one would think. I have had it since the beginning of December and it really is no big deal. Sometimes I even forget I have it. I will say that I have some body image issues with it and wearing jeans can be a challenge but it's not the end of the world like I thought it would be. The book, The Ostomy Book, is a good easy book to read and learn about life with ostomies.

      I will be having the reversal of my ileostomy in June. I'm a little nervous about it but I think it will work out great. Keep us posted!

      over 4 years ago
    • civilwarlady's Avatar

      I want to wish you both the best in your journey as a cancer survivor. Its a team effort to make it through, but together you can do it! I have endometrial cancer that led to me getting a colostomy as a results of complications from treatment. It was a tough decision to make. I had it done 5 days before Christmas 2011 and it was the best decision I ever made. The biggest issue I have found is making sure I have stuff with me to tend to the ostomy when I am out and about. I put gloves, some paper towels, some plastic cups for water, an extra wafer and bag in a ziplock bag, along with a quart mayonaise jar for emptying if needed while I am out. The bag goes in my car and stays there.There is no pain even when it is moving. because of the location of my ostomy on my abdomen, my husband changes my bag (usually once a week only). It takes about 10-15 minutes to do once you get the hang of it. I have even gone back to doing my living history programs, just had the clothes adapted to accomadate the bag. Its a challenge to learn what foods affect the ostomy and how you respond to them but once you get it figured out its not so bad. The United Ostomy Association has a lot of good information to help prepare you if you choose to go that route. My ostomy has helped me get my life back.
      Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me if you have further questions or just want to talk.

      over 4 years ago
    • wolfinindy's Avatar

      I had a TEM in Feb. of 2007 for a mass low in the rectum. The mass was a T2N0. Done at IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. I have undergone endoscopic ultrasounds every six months and have been cancer free since ! My next checkup will be another ultrasound with a full colonoscopy and my surgeon says at that time if all is clear, which I know it will be, I will go out to every three years. Procedure went well and I went home next day although I did go back into the hospital for four days with a slight infection two or three weeks later.

      over 4 years ago
    • MeggyinSF's Avatar

      Wow, this feedback is wonderful! Thank you all for sharing your experiences, tips, and knowledge with us! I will keep you posted! - Meg

      over 4 years ago
    • Lost904's Avatar

      My Dad had no choice and had to have a permanent colostomy almost 5 years ago. I don't want to by any means scare anyone out of it or sway them toward it as I myself do not have one but my Dad has had one for almost 5 years and he is still not comfortable with it and is still not have come to terms with it as being "ok". He deals with it because he has to but it has effected his entire life. A lot of people deal with it and come to terms and live a normal life but eveyone is different. My Dad has had problems with infection, leaking, feeling embarrassed (although nobody would even know he had it if you don't tell them) but its more so I think the fact that he is not comfortable with it and never will be. I hope this doesn't offend anyone or scare anyone. I just wanted to share from his perspective.

      over 4 years ago

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