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Rectal cancer linked continence problems 'last at least a year'

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Most rectal cancer patients suffer from continence problems and poor sexual health for at least a year after undergoing preoperative chemoradiotheray, according to new research.

Italian scientists surveyed 149 patients who had received chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer and found that only 14% had optimal continence within a year after treatment, with a majority reporting stool fractionation and a sensation of incomplete defecation.

Although overall quality of life was found to be stable throughout the study period, patients reported increased fatigue, reduced physical and social function and poorer body image immediately after treatment. Although these returned to baseline levels within the year, male patients found that their sexual health was still greatly impaired at the end of the study.

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