Colorectal cancer and its treatment can affect how you
feel about your body. It is normal to feel anger, frustration, or
disappointment after surgery or during treatment for cancer.
Problems you may have include:
General pain, fatigue, and discomfort from
Psychological changes such as
anxiety, guilt, and stress. These problems bother many
people after treatment is over.
Damage to or removal of nerves,
blood vessels, or organs.
Incontinence (inability to control urine
Sexual problems that may be caused by surgery or
Embarrassment and hygiene challenges caused by a
colostomy and the need to wear a colostomy bag.
Some of the changes in your body may be short-term, while others may last longer. You may not feel the same about your body or about your sexuality as you did before treatment. Many people find that these changes cause sexual problems.
Sexual problems can have physical or psychological causes. You may
have less sexual pleasure. You may lose your desire to have sex. Depression or
a feeling that your body has changed may cause or add to these feelings. People
who do not have partners often stop dating altogether because they feel that a
potential partner might reject them because of their history of cancer.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about these feelings rather than waiting for him or her to ask you. Your doctor can
answer your questions and refer you to groups that can offer support and information. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer
Society or call 1-800-227-2345 to find a support group in your area. Talking
with other people who have had similar feelings can be very helpful. Talking
openly about your concerns with your partner may also help.
For more information about body changes and intimacy, read "Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment" from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This booklet is available online at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.