Just what is Low Anterior Resection Syndrome? International patient panel releases findings

After bowel cancer surgery, the tumour may be gone but life doesn’t just go ‘back to normal’.

Patients affected by Low Anterior Resection Syndrome (LARS) find themselves on a gruelling road to recovery.

The symptoms of LARS are so varied it’s difficult to classify. They range from incontinence to constipation, so it’s hard to diagnose. But evidence suggests it’s very common, and patients who are affected can see their lives turned upside down.

That is because LARS can impact every part of daily life. From work and socialising to self esteem, emotional well-being and intimacy with partners.

The personal cost to patients can be enormous, as can the burden on NHS resources.

In 2018 we hosted an event at the Royal College of Surgeons in London for patients living with LARS. It was one of a number of similar conversations taking place all around the world.

An international research team were rewriting the rulebook on how to assess and treat LARs. They did so with the help of a panel of 325 patients, whose input has now been published in Colorectal Disease*.

We now have the first definition of LARS created hand in hand with a large panel of international patients.

By raising awareness we hope this will encourage more people to seek help with the problem. In the long term, this work could help build a tool to recognise LARS and its impact on quality of life.

Huge thanks are due to all who took part, and the professional associations who supported the work.

Now it’s time to spread the word – thousands of patients are counting on us!

Read next story: CEO Blog: Branding medical research projects

*International consensus definition of low anterior resection syndrome

C. Keane, N. S. Fearnhead, L. Bordeianou, P. Christensen, E. Espin Basany, S. Laurberg, A. Mellgren, C. Messick, G. R. Orangio, A. Verjee, K. Wing, I. Bissett, on behalf of the LARS International Collaborative Group.

First published: 10 February 2020