For some patients diagnosed with rectal cancer, surgery will involve the creation of a temporary or permanent ostomy. When the colostomy is located in the sigmoid or descending colon, regulation of fecal output can occur through irrigation, a procedure that involves instilling fluid into the bowel to flush out gas and fecal material. When successfully used, irrigation can prevent fecal output between irrigations, providing some control over colostomy output. The purpose of this article is to describe participants of a large, multisite, multi-investigator study of health-related quality of life in long-term colorectal cancer survivors who answered questions about colostomy irrigation and reported the potential advantages and disadvantages of the procedure. The article also will explore healthcare professionals' role in ensuring patients and family members are educated and well informed about their options regarding temporary or permanent ostomies.
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