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Colorectal cancer CRC survivors with ostomies can face complex concerns regarding sexuality. We used an anthropological perspective to examine the experiences of 30 female CRC survivors with ostomies to shed light on the sexual challenges and adaptations made in the wake of cancer surgery and treatment.
Participants fell into four categories with regard to their sexual experience post surgery; however, not all women found their altered sexuality to be particularly problematic.
This type of phenomenological examination can inform a more patient centered, less biomedically focused paradigm for assessing and improving the sexual health of cancer survivors. As more people survive cancer, greater attention is being given to health-related quality-of-life HR-QOL outcomes, including sexuality Krouse et al.
For people diagnosed with colorectal cancer CRC , surgical treatment may result in an intestinal stoma. Intestinal stomas or ostomies are created through a surgical procedure in which a diseased part of the small or large intestine is removed.
The remaining intestine is attached to an opening in the abdomen through which feces are expelled, most often into a pouch appliance. The surgical formation of a stoma often results in complex emotional, social, and physical concerns. Moreover, adjusting to a post-surgical body with an ostomy is often problematic Kelly ; Klopp ; Notter and Burnard ; Salter Individuals typically learn to use a bag or appliance to care for the stoma, prevent skin irritation, manage accidental leakage, and overcome embarrassment related to sounds and smells Annells ; Manderson Because of its common surgical placement—the lower abdomen—having an ostomy can present particular difficulties for sexual intimacy Black ; Weerakoon A notable amount of research examines the effects of ostomy surgery on male sexual functioning Fazio et al.