Life after colorectal cancer for young adult survivors

A growing number of adults under age 50 are facing colorectal cancer, and while cancer at any age brings lifestyle changes, these changes can be especially challenging for those who are just starting their careers, dating, thinking about becoming parents, or caring for kids or aging parents. That’s because colorectal cancer treatment — often surgery plus chemotherapy or radiation — can impact everything from bathroom use to fertility to mental health. We spoke with Y. Nancy You, M.D., about what young colorectal cancer survivors can expect and the best ways to cope. Here’s what she had to say. Bathroom use after colorectal cancer treatment If the tumor is too low to allow for the digestive tract to be reconnected after surgery, colorectal cancer patients may end up with a new waste collection method that uses an external pouch, called an ostomy. “I always tell people once they get over having an ostomy, they can live their lives as they did before. You can swim. You can run a marathon. You’ll absorb the same nutrients, and you won’t get an infection around port,” You says. Even patients with only a temporary bag can expect to make adjustments to their lifestyle. “Losing part of the rectum has significant functional implications because there’s loss of storage capacity and sometimes control. It’s also possible to have urgency, frequency and predictability concerns. Your care team will help you adjust and work through those issues,” You says. Sex after colorectal cancer treatment About 30% of men who undergo surgery and radiation as part of their colorectal cancer treatment will have some change in their sexual...