Stents May Prevent Need for Colostomy Bags in Bowel Cancer Patients

An expandable tube placed at the point of intestinal blockage from tumors may help bowel cancer patients avoid the need for colostomy bags, according to research presented at a conference of the America Society of Clinical Oncology. Nearly 1.4 million cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed each year.

In a trial on 250 patients, organized by Cancer Research UK, half were treated placing a small stent -- which expands, due to body heat, to more than an inch in diameter over 48 hours -- at the site of a bowel obstruction, while the other patients underwent conventional surgery.

While survival rates for patients of the different approaches were similar, in those patients undergoing conventional surgery, almost 70 percent needed a colostomy bag after the procedure. Of those treated with the stent, that figure was 45 percent.

"Traditionally doctors have worried that unblocking the bowel in this way could increase the chance of cancer spreading," said Professor James Hill, of Central Manchester University Hospitals, quoted at, "but our early results don't show this. We're also pleased to see that this could be a way of reducing the risk of patients needing a colostomy bag after [patients'] surgery, which is a huge improvement to patients' day-to-day lives."

Sourced from: BBC, Bowel cancer: Stents 'may prevent need for colostomy bags'