Problem addressed, background and strategic significance

Radical surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy can reduce the chance of rectal cancer coming back (recurring), however both treatments can adversely affect a person’s bowel function and poor bowel function may result in the need for a permanent stoma. This research examines which factors are most important to people in making a decision about which rectal cancer treatments to have: reducing their risk of recurrence, avoiding a permanent stoma, having good bowel function. This research will also be able to see what level of (poor) bowel function people will put up with in order to avoid needing a permanent stoma and whether this varies by age, gender or disease stage at diagnosis, and will help inform health care professionals about what factors patients find important in making decisions about their treatment.

Method(s) used

This research involves both interviewing rectal cancer patients about what was impmortant to them when making decisions about their cancer treatment and sending questionnaires to patients to assess which factors influence their treatment preferences and any treatment-related regret.

Hoped for results of this research

This research will reveal what level of (poor) bowel function people with rectal cancer will put up with in order to avoid having a permanent stoma. It will also find out what level of risk of recurrence people with rectal cancer will tolerate in exchange for both poor bowel function and a permanent stoma.

How will this project help build on the Delphi question and what further plans are proposed for future development?

This project will answer the Delphi question “What level of poor function is justified to avoid a permanent stoma?” from the perspective of people with rectal cancer. This research will form the basis of future research into providing information to help patients make informed decisions about their treatment for rectal cancer.