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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Colorectal Wellbeing Study (CREW)


Bowel cancer is the most common cancer to affect both men and women. There are about 268,000 people in the UK today who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, a figure that is predicted to rise to 630,000 by 2040. Although survival rates for bowel cancer have been improving, relatively little was previously known about how people recover: how long it takes; what it is like; who is likely to experience problems, and how these can be managed.

With CREW, we set out to explore how people recover their health and wellbeing after being treated for bowel cancer. The study followed people diagnosed with bowel cancer, inviting them to complete questionnaires at eight time points from before they had surgery until up to five years. A total of 1017 people joined the CREW study, recruited from 29 sites in the UK.

The study found that 70% were doing well after treatment for bowel cancer in terms of their health and wellbeing. However, around 30% did less well and this was still the case five years after surgery. By asking individuals affected, CREW identified those issues that are most important to people with bowel cancer: confidence to manage cancer-related problems; depression; comorbidities and persistent symptoms that affect everyday life; unmet needs and social support.

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