A colon cancer diagnosis can create a wave of emotions and fear all on its own. The prospect of having an ostomy can take those fears to the next level. We’re here to help, so let’s begin with the basic terminology.

ColostomyThe surgically created opening of the colon (large intestine) which results in a stoma. A colostomy is created when a portion of the colon or the rectum is removed and the remaining colon is brought to the abdominal wall. It may further be defined by the portion of the colon involved and/or its permanence.
Temporary IleostomyAllows the lower portion of the colon to rest or heal. It may have one or two openings.
Permanent ColostomyUsually involves the loss of part of the colon, most commonly the rectum. The end of the remaining portion of the colon is brought out to the abdominal wall to form the stoma.
IleostomyA surgically created opening in the small intestine, usually at the end of the ileum. The intestine is brought through the abdominal wall to form a stoma. Ileostomies may be temporary or permanent, and may involve removal of all or part of the entire colon.

Many colon cancer patients will have a temporary ostomy after surgery but less than 10% of patients will end up having a permanent ostomy.

Think of your ostomy’s function as you did your natural bowel movements. You still have the same bowel; it just might be redirected for a little while. The real change is having the stool come out of an opening made on your stomach.

Many colon patients will have a temporary ileostomy –one of the most common types of stomas. An ileostomy diverts the flow of stool away from the area that is healing. Once it is healed, the surgeon will reverse it and your full digestive system will be back in action.

Everyone’s situation is a bit different and we recommend you talk to your doctor about any questions you have regarding your current symptoms or treatment plan. If you need any resources or want to talk to someone who has experience with a stoma, please call our Helpline, (877) 422-2030.

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