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Surgery for rectal cancer often cures people of cancer, but patients can be left with problematic bowel symptoms, as low anterior resection syndrome (LARS), that can impact their quality of life.
QEII Colorectal surgeon and researcher, Dr Andrea Warwick is the co-lead of a joint Australian and UK study investigating how to improve symptoms and quality of life for patients diagnosed with LARS following treatment of rectal cancer.
“The Pathway of Low Anterior Resection syndrome relief after Surgery (POLARiS) trial is a really important study that should not only identify the optimal management for people with problematic bowel function after rectal cancer but will raise awareness into this debilitating problem.
“When people’s bowels are not working well, they often struggle to continue normal activities.
“Understanding more about this condition and how to treat it is critical as it’s not just about surviving cancer, but about ensuring life is as good as possible afterwards,” she said.
The trial will compare optimised conservative management, with transanal irrigation (which involves emptying of the bowel by introducing water into the rectum), and sacral neuromodulation - a device that been used successfully for years to treat both faecal and urinary incontinence.
The study forms part of a collaborative initiative between Australia and the UK. An identical study protocol will be run concurrently across both countries and has received both NHMRC and NIHR funding.