Colostomy bag but not removing tumour?

My father (71) has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer that has spread to liver .  He has been so very ill for months and rapid decline over 2 months  extreme weight loss, going to loo 15+ times per day and unable to eat very much and no quality of life at all They are going to do an operation for him to have a colostomy bag as they bowel is so blocked by the tumour but from what I understand they will not be removing any of the tumour this is just improve his quality of life , and when he is built up again possible some chemo I just assumed that while they were operating they would be attempting to take some of the tumour away so is this normal? 

  • Hi . The forming of a colostomy is a different and much smaller operation than removing the tumour. They will make a small incision in his tummy, bring a small section of the bowel out and stitch it in place to form the stoma. The removal of the tumour would be either laparoscopic ie. a few small incisions in the tummy or open surgery -  my scar runs from just above my belly button down to my pubic area. 
    Their main concern will be preventing the bowel getting blocked up with stools which can be dangerous. Body waste will now be collected in the colostomy bag and your dad will no longer have all the trips to the toilet. This will hopefully give him a better quality of life and allow him to put some weight back on before starting treatment.

    There is a separate board from stoma support that might be helpful although the nurses will make sure that he is comfortable with cleaning the stoma and changing the bag before they let him home

    There’s lots of people on here who have stomas so please ask if you have any questions - there’s nothing too daft or embarrassing!

    Take care

    Karen x

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Thank you so much for replying I really  appreciate it , this has just been a massive shock and when they said about operating I just assumed the would do something with the tumour at the same time  and have panicked when I discovered this is not the case but it making a bit more sense now, thank you xx

  • This is spot on what happened to my husband. He was going to the toilet more times than that, I think. The first plan of action was to relieve that and allow the body to empty the bowels through a stoma. In my husband’s case, they then focused on trying to make the tumour as small as possible to remove - chemo and radiotherapy. The operation to remove the tumour was some 6 months later.  That’s only his experience, but certainly started the same as your father. Wishing him all the very best. Take care 

  • Thank you for your reply, it is just awful to watch someone you love suffer like this , Thank you for your kind wishes 

  • Thank you for posting. So helpful to read this. My Dad (83) has been told today by the surgeon that rather than an op to remove they want to put in a stoma and then radio and chemo first before deciding on a big op. I’m confused though as thought wiser to take out the mass (which he has on his large bowel). They advised they want to try this way due to the lump being in the middle of the passage and due to his age. Apart from this tumour, he is fit so far so wondering why they don’t just remove the tumour. 

  • Hi 

    This is quite common in rectal cancer . The surgeons like to get as good margins in that area to prevent recurrence. My mum’s was higher up the colon and easier to get clear margins . The wider the margin the better for long term outcomes . Just the very location and volume of flesh around the rectal area means the smaller they can get the tumour the better for the patient surgically .

    You will see it a lot on the boards .

    This might be of some interest to you . 
    I will also link in our stoma group for you to get up to speed with that . 
    Take care ,


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    This might be a good forum to link in with as your dad finds his feet .

    Wish him all the best . My dad is the same age , different issues but you feel for them .

    Take care ,


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