Problem addressed, background and strategic significance

Patients who have surgery for rectal cancer often have an ileostomy (stoma bag). After the bowel containing the cancer is removed, there will be a join in the bowel and whilst this join is healing the stoma stops stool passing through it. Once this join has healed the stoma can be closed. However, bowel function may not return to normal and some people suffer with diarrhoea which has a great impact on their lives. We think that diarrhoea may be caused by a lack of healthy bacteria in the bowel. This could be improved through faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). This means putting the bacteria from someone else’s stool into the bowel. We would do this through the stoma before the stoma is closed. We want to find out whether people would find this treatment acceptable, what might make them more or less likely to agree to it and what information they would want about the treatment before they accepted it.

Method(s) used

We will send out questionnaires to people who have had an ileostomy after surgery for rectal cancer, asking about their views on FMT. We will ask some of them to come to a patient and public day meeting to discuss it further and help us design some patient information on FMT. We then plan to test whether this information affects people’s views on FMT by asking them to complete a questionnaire before and after receiving it.

Hoped for results of this research

We would like to know whether this treatment is something people would consider and how we can make it more acceptable to patients.

What further plans are proposed for future development?

If it were acceptable to patients, the next step would be a trial to see if FMT does improve symptoms for patients who have had an ileostomy with the intention of improving function and the quality of life for these patients.