Most people have changes in how their bowel works after rectal surgery.
If you had a local resection, your bowel will usually recover quite quickly. After TME surgery, it will take longer. It could take several months for your bowel function to get into a regular pattern. It may never be the same as it was before the cancer. But in time, it should settle into a routine that you recognize as normal for you.
If you had radiotherapy or chemoradiation before or after rectal surgery, this will also affect your bowel. This could mean it takes longer to get back to a regular bowel habit.
After rectal surgery, you may experience one or more of the following changes:
- needing to open your bowels several times a day (frequency)
- feeling you can’t wait when you feel the need to open your bowels (urgency)
- diarrhoea or constipation
- losing control over when your bowels open (incontinence)
- difficulty telling the difference between wind or stools
- feeling bloated or passing a lot of wind
- having a sore bottom.
These effects usually improve over time. Tell your surgeon or specialist nurse if you are having problems, or if your bowel isn’t settling into a routine. They can give you advice, prescribe medicines or refer you to a continence specialist nurse or dietitian.